The UK economy grew by 0.3% during the first quarter of 2013, following a contraction of 0.3% in the final quarter of 2012. The UK economy has been unable to recover the output lost during the 2008/9 recession and remains 2.6% below its pre-recession peak.
In contrast the labour market weakened in the first quarter of 2013. The employment rate fell to 71.4%, down 0.2 percentage points. This was driven by a fall in part-time workers, while full-time employment rose slightly on the quarter.
The contraction followed five successive quarters of growth, with the employment rate having increased by 0.8 percentage points on the same period a year ago. Employment has proven resilient throughout the recession, contracting by less than would be expected given the fall in GDP and recovering to its pre-recession level in the second quarter of 2012.
During the first quarter the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8% and fell by 0.4 percentage points on the same period a year ago. Weekly hours increased by 2.4 million on the three months to March, an increase of 0.3%, to reach a record high of 950.3 million hours. Total weekly hours have now surpassed its pre-recession level in the first quarter of 2008.
At the end of 2012, productivity was 2.0% lower than its pre-recession annual peak in 2007- due to employment being substantially more resilient than output. An article analysing the Productivity Puzzle, ‘The Productivity Conundrum, Explanations and Preliminary Analysis’, was released by ONS in October 2012.
Official output per hour statistics for the first quarter of 2013 are not published until 28 June this year.
Source: Office for National Statistics
GDP: chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted, Office for National Statistics (ABMI)
Employment level: All aged 16 and over, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics (MGRZ)
Total weekly hours (millions), seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics (YBUS)
Unemployment level: All aged 16 and over, seasonally adjusted, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics (MGSC)
Output per hour, seasonally adjusted, (2009=100), Office for National Statistics (LZVB)
GDP data is from the "Gross Domestic Product: Preliminary Estimate - Q1 2013" published on the 25 April 2013.
Labour Market data is from the "Labour Market Statistics - May 2013" published on the 15 May 2013.
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