UK officially in recession, first time in 11 years

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The UK economy has suffered its biggest slump on record between April and June 2020 as COVID-19 lockdown measures pushed the country officially into recession.

The economy shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year, the biggest since records began in 1955.

Household spending tumbled as shops were ordered to close, while factory and construction output also fell.

This pushed the UK into its first technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline – since 2009.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said government was “grappling with something that is unprecedented” and that it was “a very difficult and uncertain time”.

But shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blamed Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the scale of the economic decline, saying: “A downturn was inevitable after lockdown – but Johnson’s jobs crisis wasn’t.”

 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the economy bounced back in June as government’s restrictions on movement started to ease.

On the country’s economic performance, Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician and director general for economic statistics, said: “Despite this, gross domestic product (GDP) in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

The ONS further disclosed that the collapse in output was due to the closure of shops, hotels, restaurants, schools and car repair shops.

According to BBC, the services sector, which powers four-fifths of the economy, suffered the biggest quarterly decline on record and factory shutdowns resulted in the slowest car production since 1954.

On a month-on-month (MoM) basis, the UK economy grew by 8.7 percent in June, building on growth in May.

Sunak had further explained that the economic slump would lead to more job losses in the coming months.

“I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here,” Sunak said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months, many more will.

“But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.”

The UK suffered more than any major European economy during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The long duration of the lockdown in the second quarter, due to the government’s slow response to COVID-19 in March, followed by its failure to prevent the virus from spreading from hospitals, was at the root of the economy’s underperformance,” Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.

Also, in the country’s economy, wages and salaries fell 1.6 percent, which is the first decline since 2015 and the largest since 2008.

 

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