GDP monthly estimate, UK: May 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 July 2019

Next release:
9 August 2019

1. UK GDP grew by 0.3% in the three months to May 2019

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

“GDP grew moderately in the latest three months, with IT, communications and retail showing strength. Despite this, there has been a longer-term slowdown in the often-dominant services sector since summer 2018.

The economy returned to growth in the month of May, following the fall seen in April. This was mainly due to the partial recovery in car production.”

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2. Services and production contributed positively to rolling three-month growth in May 2019, while construction had no contribution

Both the services and production sectors grew by 0.3% in the three months to May 2019, contributing positively to headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth. However, construction growth was flat over the same period, with zero contribution.

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

Rolling three-month growth was 0.3% in May 2019, the second consecutive slowing in growth since the 0.5% seen in March 2019 (Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019), when there was a change in the timing of activity around the originally planned departure date of the UK from the EU. This growth was on par with the moderate growth rates seen at the start of 2019.

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 0.3% in May 2019

Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 0.3% in May 2019, following negative growth in April 2019. Consistent with the latest Quarterly national accounts, monthly GDP in March 2019 has been revised up by 0.2 percentage points to 0.1% as a result of new survey estimates.

The monthly growth rate for GDP is volatile and so it should be used with caution and alongside other measures, such as the three-month growth rate, when looking for an indicator of the longer-term trend of the economy. However, it is useful in highlighting one-off changes that can be masked by three-month growth rates.

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5. Services sector rolling three-month growth was 0.3% for the second month in a row

Rolling three-month services growth was 0.3% in May 2019, the same as April 2019. The main contributors to services growth in May 2019 were retail trade, and information and communication. Despite these industries performing well in recent periods, there has been a notable slowdown in services growth since July 2018.

In May 2019, growth in services was flat, following growth of 0.1% in April 2019. At a more detailed level there was a mixed picture, with five subsectors increasing and four decreasing. Information and communication showed the biggest fall, decreasing for the first time after six consecutive months of growth.

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6. The production sector partially recovered in May 2019 after falling significantly in April 2019

Rolling three-month growth in the production sector was 0.3% in May 2019, with growth in manufacturing slowing to 0.1%. Within manufacturing, the largest drag on growth was manufacture of transport equipment. Growth in mining and quarrying remained strong at 1.6%, driven by the high levels of production seen in February and March 2019.

Production grew by 1.4% in May 2019, following a fall of 2.9% in April 2019. Within production, manufacturing grew by 1.4%, shown in figure 4 above. This was driven largely by a pick-up in the manufacture of transport equipment, following several car firms shutting down production around the originally intended departure date from the European Union. Despite this rebound, the levels of output in this industry are below those seen in the months prior to April 2019. Elsewhere, mining and quarrying grew by 0.4% following a sharp fall in April 2019.

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7. Growth in the construction sector was flat in the three months to May 2019

Rolling three-month growth in the construction sector was flat in May 2019, slowing from growth of 1.0% in April 2019. This flat growth was due to a fall in repair and maintenance offsetting strength in new work.

Month-on-month growth in construction was 0.6% in May 2019, recovering from the negative growth seen in both March and April 2019. The largest positive contributor to monthly growth was private industrial other new work.

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8. Things you need to know about this release

This release incorporates the revisions to Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019 published in the June 2019 Quarterly national accounts (QNA) release.

Blue Book 2019

Each year we produce an annual update to the UK National Accounts in the Blue Book and Pink Book and the associated releases. As already announced, the Blue Book and Pink Book 2019 consistent datasets will be published on 30 September 2019. The publication of monthly GDP on the 10 October 2019 will also incorporate these changes.

Details have already been provided on the scope in the article Latest developments and changes to be implemented in Blue Book and Pink Book 2019. Indicative impacts on headline gross domestic product (GDP) components for the years 1997 to 2016 were published on 27 June 2019 in the article Blue Book 2019 indicative impacts on GDP current price and chained volume measure estimates: 1997 to 2016.

This year, due to the very demanding set of changes being put through in the annual update, we are exceptionally not going to fully reconcile 2017 annual data, instead producing an indicative balance to allow further time for final quality assurance of the data.

Consequently, the reference year and last base year for all chained volume measure series will remain as 2016.

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9. 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