UK Economy Stagnates in Q1

02 July 2002

Revised data from Britain's Office of National Statistics indicates that the economy ground virtually to a standstill during the first quarter of 2002. During this period gross domestic product blipped upward by a meagre 0.1% – an improvement nonetheless on the original ONS figure of zero growth.

In another micro-adjustment the ONS revised its earlier figure for Q4 2001, also zero growth, by the same minuscule margin of +0.1%. These revisions conveniently keep the economy from crossing the line into official recession even though GDP registered the lowest growth across two successive quarters since 1991.

The upward amendments have been driven by the housing bubble [oops, boom] and the concomitantly buoyant construction sector which rose by 3% during Q1.

Manufacturing output, however, was down for the fifth consecutive quarter and the hitherto burgeoning services sector could manage only a feeble 0.2% growth. Advertising, security, legal, accountancy, recruitment, architecture and engineering services all showed marked declines.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has predicted UK growth of 2%-2.5% during 2002, a target that looks increasingly unachievable unless the widely hyped recovery makes a late appearance in the second half of this year. If the target is missed, the government will be deprived of the funds it has promised to plough into public services such as education and health.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff