GDP monthly estimate, UK : May 2022

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:
13 July 2022

Next release:
12 August 2022

1. Main points

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.5% in May 2022, after a decline of 0.2% in April 2022 (revised up from a 0.3% fall); UK GDP increased by 0.4% in the three months to May 2022, and by 3.5% in the 12 months to May 2022.  

  • Services output grew by 0.4% in May 2022 as human health and social work activities grew by 2.1%, mainly because of a large rise in GP appointments, which offset the continued scaling down of the NHS Test and Trace and COVID-19 Vaccination Programmes.

  • Output in consumer-facing services fell by 0.1% in May 2022, driven by a 0.5% fall in retail trade, and non-consumer facing services grew by 0.5% in May, following a fall of 0.8% in April.

  • Production grew by 0.9% in May 2022, driven by growth of 1.4% in manufacturing and 0.3% in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply.

  • Construction grew by 1.5% in May 2022, following 0.3% growth in April. This is construction's seventh consecutive month of growth.

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2. Monthly GDP

Monthly real gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by 0.5% in May 2022 (Figure 1) following a fall of 0.2% in April 2022 (revised up from a 0.3% fall). Monthly GDP is now estimated to be 1.7% above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels (February 2020). This release includes revisions to the monthly data back to January 2022, consistent with our Quarterly national accounts bulletin published on 30 June 2022. For more information, see Section 7: Revisions to monthly GDP section.

All main sectors have contributed positively to the monthly GDP estimate in May 2022 (Figure 2).

GDP grew by 0.4% in the three months to May 2022 with construction contributing 0.2 percentage points, while services and production contributed 0.1 percentage points.

Annual growth in monthly GDP was 3.5% in the 12 months to May 2022, down slightly from 3.7% to April 2022.

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3. The services sector

Services grew by 0.4% in May 2022 and was the largest contributor to GDP growth. This follows a fall of 0.2% in April 2022 (revised up from a 0.3% fall).

Human health and social work activities increased by 2.1% in May 2022 and was the main contributor to May's growth in services (Figure 3) despite the substantial reduction in NHS Test and Trace and vaccination activity. This growth was driven by human health activities, which increased by 2.5% following a fall of 7.6% in April 2022. Growth in human health activities in May 2022 was mainly driven by a large rise (15%) in GP appointments in England.

The largest negative contribution to services in May 2022 was wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, falling by 0.8%. The main driver of negative growth in this sub-sector was wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which fell by 1.5%.

NHS Test and Trace services and vaccine programmes

NHS Test and Trace and COVID-19 vaccination programme activity decreased by 44% in May 2022, driven by falls in both test and trace and vaccine activity. NHS Test and Trace volumes fell by 47% in May, compared with April, and came from strong falls in lateral flow devices and lab-based testing. Vaccine volumes fell by 42%, as the spring booster programme for at-risk groups began to reduce. The overall impact of these declines was to detract 0.2 percentage points from monthly GDP in May 2022.

A full record of the volume estimates of Test and Trace, and vaccination programmes along with their contribution to GDP growth can be found in our accompanying dataset.

Consumer-facing services

Output in consumer-facing services fell by 0.1% in May 2022, following downwardly revised growth of 2.2% in April. Consumer-facing services was 4.7% below its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels (February 2020) in May 2022, while all other services was 3.6% above (Figure 4).

The monthly fall in consumer-facing services was driven by a contraction of 5.3% in sports activities and amusement and recreation activities (Figure 5), however, it is important to note there is lower data content at this stage for these "areas". Elsewhere, retail trade also contributed negatively to consumer-facing services, falling by 0.5% in May 2022.

This was partially offset by growth in travel agency, tour operator and other reservation services and related activities, the largest positive contributor in consumer-facing services, which increased by 11.0%. Anecdotal evidence received from the Monthly Business Survey for Services suggested increased confidence in holiday booking following the end of COVID restrictions.

Overall, services grew by 0.1% in the three months to May 2022, with positive growth seen in 9 of the 14 services sectors offset by negative contributions in the other five services sectors.

More detailed breakdowns on services are available in our Index of Services, UK: May 2022 bulletin.

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4. The production sector

Production output rose by 0.9% in May 2022, driven by growth of 1.4% in manufacturing; there was also an 0.3% increase in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply. 

Manufacturing increased by 1.4% in May 2022, with growth increasing in 12 of the 13 manufacturing sub-sectors.

The largest contribution to growth was in other manufacturing and repair (up 3.4%), which saw positive growth in all five industries. This follows a fall of 4.0% in April 2022.

Growth was also seen in May 2022 in manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations (3.2%) manufacture of food products, beverages and tobacco (1.1%) and manufacture of electrical equipment (3.9%).

Elsewhere within production, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply increased by 0.3% in May 2022, driven by growth of 5.7% in manufacture of gas; distribution of gaseous fuels through mains; steam and air conditioning supply. Mining and quarrying fell by 2.7%, driven by a 4.1% fall in the extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas.

Water supply and sewerage fell by 0.2% on the month, driven entirely by a fall of 6.4% in water collection, treatment and supply.

Overall, production increased by 0.5% in the three months to May 2022, with growth in all sub-sectors of 1.1% in mining and quarrying, 0.2% in manufacturing, 1.0% in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, and 1.9% in water supply and sewerage.

More detailed breakdowns on production are available in our Index of Production, UK: May 2022 bulletin.

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5. The construction sector

Construction output increased by 1.5% in May 2022 (Figure 8) and is now at its highest level (£15,053 million) since monthly records began in 2010. Following upwardly revised April 2022 growth of 0.3%, this is the seventh consecutive rise in monthly growth. This was last achieved between May and November 2020 when the industry recovered from the initial large falls at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Construction output is now 4.1% above its pre-coronavirus pandemic level (February 2020) in May 2022 (Figure 8). 

The increase in monthly construction output in May 2022 came from new work (2.8%), which was offset slightly by a fall in repair and maintenance (0.4%). 

At the sector level, four of the nine sectors saw an increase on the month in May 2022, with private housing repair and maintenance (7.2%) and private commercial new work (12.1%) the main contributors to the increase. Despite the high prices for certain construction material and products, anecdotal evidence from the Monthly Business Survey for Construction and Allied Trades, and recent new orders in the construction industry suggest that demand for projects persists. 

Construction output rose 3.0% in the three months to May 2022. Increases in both new work and repair and maintenance (2.1% and 4.1%, respectively) contributed to this growth, with seven of the nine sectors seeing an increase.

Further detail on construction growth rates can be found in Construction output in Great Britain: May 2022

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6. Cross-industry themes

There were some common themes that were anecdotally reported to have played a part in performance across different industries, however, it is often difficult to quantify these effects.

Respondents continued to report that price increases had made an impact on their businesses, as producer input prices rose to the highest levels since records began in January 1985, as shown in our Producer price inflation, UK: May 2022 bulletin. Some respondents reported that an increase in input prices had led to them raising the price of the products they sell. Many referenced the cost of fuel and electricity, while others cited price increases in nickel, cobalt, aluminium, steel, paper, fish, and cooking oil.

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7. Revisions to GDP

This release gives data for May 2022 for the first time. It incorporates revisions to monthly data from January 2022 to March 2022, as published in our Quarterly national accounts bulletin on 30 June 2022. April 2022 is also open to revision, taking on updated survey data and seasonal adjustment reviews. Table 2 shows the revisions to monthly gross domestic product (GDP) and its sectors for January to April 2022, since the last monthly publication on 13 June 2022.

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8. Monthly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data

Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) by gross value added
Dataset | Released 13 July 2022
The gross value added (GVA) tables showing monthly and annual growth and indices, as published within our monthly gross domestic product (GDP) statistical bulletin.

Contributions to monthly GDP
Dataset | Released 13 July 2022
Contributions to growth within monthly gross domestic product (GDP), UK.

Monthly gross domestic product: time series
Dataset| Released 13 July 2022
Monthly estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) containing constant price gross value added (GVA) data for the UK.

Monthly GDP and main sectors to four decimal places
Dataset | Released 13 July 2022
Monthly index values for monthly gross domestic product (GDP) and the main sectors in the UK to four decimal places.

Revisions triangles for monthly GDP
Dataset | Released 13 July 2022
Comparison of gross domestic product (GDP) first estimates against estimates published later.

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9. Glossary

Contribution to growth

Contribution to growth indicates how many percentage points a sector or industry is adding or removing from a given growth rate, usually headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

A measure of the economic activity produced by a country or region. GDP growth is the main indicator of economic performance. There are three approaches used to measure GDP:

  • the output approach 

  • the expenditure approach 

  • the income approach  

Index numbers

Data relative to a given base value, which typically refers to a year.

Rolling three-month growth

Rolling three-month growth takes the average level of three consecutive months (for example, April, May and June), and compares it with the average level of the previous three months (for example, January, February and March). The rolling three-month growth rate is often used alongside the monthly growth rate, as the latter can be more volatile.

For further definitions, please see our Glossary of economic terms.

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10. Measuring the data

Further information on measuring the data across our main data sources is available in the following releases:

There have been large movements in UK gross domestic product (GDP) over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is primarily in response to the public health restrictions and voluntary social distancing that have been in place over this period. Given the size of these effects, there has been a focus on where the economy is, relative to its pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

In the UK, we produce estimates of monthly and quarterly GDP. However, these would not necessarily provide the same estimate of the economy's position, relative to its pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. This is largely because monthly estimates of GDP are based on only the output measure of GDP, while quarterly estimates of GDP reflect the average of the three approaches (output, income and expenditure).

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many measurement challenges,as shown in our article, Coronavirus and the effects on GDP, that have created more uncertainty around our three approaches. This has led to an initial divergence between the output and average estimate, which is then reflected in how we compare monthly and quarterly estimates of GDP. Further information is available in our article, Measuring monthly and quarterly UK gross domestic product during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Estimates for the construction industry within monthly GDP will differ to those published in the construction output release as they account for both the outputs produced and inputs consumed by the industry. There are also some coverage differences, given the use of the Annual Business Survey in their compilation.

Within the monthly GDP publication, government data are sourced on a quarterly basis; a monthly forecast is used to estimate data for the monthly round until quarterly data are available. While this is a standard practice with many of our data sources, pre-empting the behaviour of a series during a pandemic, in particular for health and education, comes with more uncertainty than usual, so caution is advised when looking at the monthly estimates beyond the latest published quarter.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is aware of reclassifications or relocations of companies that may affect these published estimates of GDP and associated breakdowns. The ONS is monitoring the data and will seek to implement any resulting changes into the national accounts as soon as possible.

Seasonal adjustment and special events

Previous experience in 2002 and 2012 highlighted that the Jubilee and the timing of bank holidays might lead to more volatile movements in the monthly path of gross domestic product (GDP) in May and June. As part of our usual practice, prior adjustments are made for calendar effects (where statistically significant) such as returns that do not comply with the standard trading period, bank holidays, Easter and the day of the week Christmas occurs. Adjustments for repeating and predictable effects are estimated and removed from the final seasonally adjusted series, for example, a permanent change in the seasonal pattern. Adjustments for effects that do not repeat are estimated and removed during the seasonal adjustment process but are then put back in to the final seasonally adjusted series, for example, the effect of extreme weather. We will continue to review these adjustments on a regular basis.

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11. Strengths and limitations

Quality and methodology information (QMI) on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Gross domestic product (GDP) QMI.

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

The latest comparisons of a month with the same month in the previous year should be treated with caution given the impact of base effects on growth rates because of the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021. Such comparisons and growth rates can be found in our accompanying dataset.

Consultation on ONS release times

The Office for Statistics Regulation has finalised its consultation on release practices. The ONS has welcomed the findings, specifically noting that the release-time exemptions, which were granted during the coronavirus pandemic, are now incorporated into the revised Code of Practice. As such, the monthly GDP release will continue to be published at 7am.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Niamh McAuley
Telephone: +44 1633 455284