Hurrah! UK growth back to pre-recession levels

Figures published this morning show the UK grew by 1.9% in 2013, its strongest rate since the beginning of the recession.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 07 Feb 2014

O frabjous day: the UK economy has finally crossed that hallowed line between ‘doing better than it was’ and ‘actually doing quite well’. Figures published this morning by the Office for National Statistics show UK GDP grew by 1.9% in 2013, its strongest rate since before the recession. Phew.

The figure is 0.5% higher than the ONS forecast in December, and it’s also the first time since 2007 that the economy has grown in all four quarters. But the ONS was cautious: it pointed out that during the fourth quarter, growth fell to 0.7%, from 0.8% the quarter before. And also that economic output is still 1.3% below the level it was during the first quarter of 2008.

The bright spot was the service sector, which makes up more than three-quarters of industrial output and rose by 0.8% during the fourth quarter. Manufacturing also rose, by 0.9%. Construction, on the other hand, fell by 0.3%, while industrial production fell by 0.1% because of a fall in oil and gas output from the North Sea. Oh well. You can’t win ‘em all.

Of course, the figure is subject to revisions (remember when the government managed to magic the double-dip out of existence?). But the ONS seems optimistic: it reckons the UK will achieve growth of 2.4% in 2014 – the same figure as the International Monetary Fund.

‘Today’s estimate suggests over four fifths of the fall in GDP during the recession has been recovered, although it still remains 1.3% below the pre-recession peak,’ said Joe Grice, the ONS’ chief economic adviser. Now, if only they can get that pesky borrowing figure down, things will really start to look good…

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