GDP monthly estimate, UK: February 2019

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of goods and services produced in the UK. It estimates the size of and growth in the economy.

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Release date:
10 April 2019

Next release:
10 May 2019

1. UK gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.3% in the three months to February 2019

Commenting on today’s GDP figures, Head of GDP Rob Kent-Smith said:

“GDP growth remained modest in the latest three months. Services again drove the economy, with a continued strong performance in IT.

“Manufacturing also continued to recover after weakness at the end of last year with the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry, chemicals and alcohol performing well in recent months.”

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2. The services and production sectors contributed positively to GDP growth, while construction had a negative contribution

The services sector was the largest contributor to rolling three-month growth, expanding by 0.4% in the three months to February 2019. The production sector had a small positive contribution, growing by 0.2%. However, the construction sector contracted by 0.6%, resulting in a small negative contribution to GDP growth.

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3. Rolling three-month growth was 0.3% in the three months to February 2019

Rolling three-month growth was 0.3% in February 2019, the same as an upwardly-revised January 2019. This is slightly higher than the 0.2% growth seen in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2018.

Rolling three-month growth is based on output gross value added (GVA) and so there will be discrepancies in the time series with our quarterly estimates of gross domestic product (GDP), which include information on the expenditure and income approaches to measuring GDP.

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4. GDP grew by 0.2% in February 2019

Monthly GDP growth was 0.2% in February 2019, after contracting by 0.3% in December 2018 and growing by 0.5% in January 2019. January growths for production, manufacturing, and construction have all been upwardly revised due to late survey returns.

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5. Rolling three-month growth in the services sector was 0.4% in February 2019

Over the past year, wholesale and retail trade output has grown faster than the services sector as a whole. However, growth in motor trade output has remained persistently below the services sector, despite recovering somewhat in October and November 2018. There are a number of reasons for the weakening in the motor trade industry, including the introduction of emissions testing in September 2018.

The services sector grew by 0.1% in the month of February 2019, with broad-based growth across its subsectors. The largest positive contributor to monthly growth was legal activities, which recovered from a fall in January. This was offset by a decline in advertising in February.

Rolling three-month growth in the services sector was 0.4% in February 2019. The largest contributor to growth was computer programming, which has performed strongly in recent months.

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6. Production industries grew by 0.2% in the three months to February 2019

Following a period of contraction, output in production and manufacturing has risen for the second month in a row, the latter driven by domestic demand. Manufacturing is now at its highest level since April 2008.

Month-on-month growth in the production sector was 0.6% in February 2019. Widespread growth led to a 0.9% increase in manufacturing, with 11 out of 13 manufacturing subsectors increasing. Electricity and gas production declined, as warmer than usual temperatures resulted in lower demand.

Production industries grew by 0.2% in the three months to February 2019. This was the first positive three-month growth since October 2018. Manufacturing grew by 0.4%, the first positive rolling three-month growth since September 2018. This was driven by pharmaceuticals, food products (including beverages) and chemicals, although it was partially offset by a fall in motor vehicle production.

There has been external evidence that some manufacturing businesses have changed the timing of their activity as we approached the original planned date for the UK’s departure from the European Union. Although the ONS does not routinely collect detailed data on the reasons behind the behaviour of businesses, as part of our survey validation we have found some qualitative evidence that supported this view but were unable to quantify its impact.

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7. Construction output decreased by 0.6% in the three months to February 2019

The construction sector grew by 0.4% in February 2019. The main drivers to this were private housing new work and infrastructure. Rolling three-month growth in construction was negative 0.6%.

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8. Quality and methodology

The Gross domestic product (GDP) Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data
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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

James Scruton
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455284