The UK economy contracted by 0.3 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2012; following growth of 0.9 per cent in the previous quarter, the strongest quarterly growth since the third quarter of 2007.
The fourth quarter contraction can be partly attributed to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which may have had a positive impact on GDP growth in the third quarter. For example ticket sales for the Games added 0.2 percentage points to growth. Output in the fourth quarter did not benefit from this effect, and growth from the artificially high level in the third quarter will be reduced commensurately.
At a sector level, production made the largest contribution to the fourth quarter decline; the sector contracted by 1.8 per cent and contributed a fall of 0.3 percentage points to GDP. Of this decline, 0.2 percentage points were the result of a fall of 10.2 per cent in mining and quarrying output.
According to the most recent labour market statistics, employment continued to rise for the fifth consecutive quarter, increasing by 0.5% on the quarter and 2.0% on the year. Previous strength in employment had mainly been as a consequence of increases in part-time and self-employed workers. However in the latest quarter full-time employment also showed strength and rose to the highest level since quarter one of 2009.
While full-time work accounts for the majority of both male and female employment, the overall employment composition of each gender differs greatly and both have undergone substantial change throughout the recession.
Since the start of 2008, male full-time employees have followed a similar trend to GDP. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the number of full-time male employees was 358 thousand or 3.1 per cent lower than in the first quarter of 2008, similar in scale to the decline in GDP over the same period. Over the same period, the number of males in all self-employed and part-time employment increased. However overall male employment remains below its pre-recession level due to the fall in full-time male employmees.
The number of full-time female employees has also decreased but more slowly than that of males, and is 1.3 per cent lower than the first quarter of 2008 despite a rise in the latest period. All self-employed women has increased by 22.9 per cent over the same period, and has consequently been the main driver of the increase in female employment.
The continued growth in the total number of women in employment, rising by 245 thousand since the first quarter of 2008, may in part be attributable to changes in legislation. With the women state pension age gradually increasing from 60 since April 2010, fewer women are retiring between the ages of 60-65 and are remaining in the labour force. Similarly, since late 2008 there have been changes made to the eligibility for Lone Parent Income Support (LPIS) resulting in more lone parents, the majority being women, to switch from being economically inactive to active in the labour force.
Source: Office for National Statistics
GDP: chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted, Office for National Statistics (ABMI)
Employment level: aged 16 years and over, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics (MGRZ)
Male full-time employees, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBL)
Male part-time employees, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBO)
Male full-time self-employed, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBR)
Male part-time self-employed, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBU)
Female full-time employees, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBM)
Female part-time employees, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBP)
Female full-time self-employed, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBS)
Female part-time self-employed, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Stastistics (YCBV)
GDP data is from "Preliminary estimate for Gross Domestic Product" published on the 25 January 2013.
Labour Market data is from the latest "Labour Market Statistical Bulletin" published on the 20 February 2013.
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