This page contains data and analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from 10 to 14 August 2020. Go to our live page for the most up-to-date insights on COVID-19.


13 August 2020

Does exposure to air pollution increase the risk of dying from COVID-19?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a big drop in pollution levels – global carbon emissions per day were up to 17% lower than normal at one stage in early April, returning to levels last seen in 2006.

However, some studies suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution before the pandemic is associated with severe symptoms from COVID-19 and a greater risk of death.

Today, we have published detailed analysis showing that deaths involving COVID-19 were more common in highly polluted areas in England, particularly early in the pandemic.

This was at least partly driven by outbreaks in areas such as London. The correlation between air pollution and mortality fell as deaths rose, before levelling off in early May.

To isolate the impact of air pollution, we developed a statistical model controlling for factors such as levels of deprivation, population density and public health (such as smoking rates). This enabled us to compare deaths among populations of similar health from the same sort of area, with the main difference being long-term exposure to air pollution.

We also controlled for ethnicity, thereby comparing deaths among populations with similar levels of ethnic diversity. When we control for ethnicity, we found that air pollution exposure has no statistically significant impact on COVID-19 deaths.

However, the fact that ethnic minority populations are more likely to live in inner city areas (that are more polluted) makes it very difficult to isolate air pollution from other potential drivers of disparity in COVID-19 mortality for ethnic minorities. Ultimately, our analysis is inconclusive.


12 August 2020

GDP, April to June 2020

UK gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 20.4% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020, as government restrictions on movement dramatically reduced economic activity through most of the quarter. Today’s GDP monthly estimate release captures the direct effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus.

GDP saw its second consecutive quarterly decline in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020

UK GDP growth, Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2005 until Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020

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The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record.

All the headline sectors provided a negative contribution to GDP growth in the three months to June 2020. The services sector fell by 19.9%, production by 16.9% and construction by 35.0%. GDP first quarterly estimate, UK: April to June 2020 provides further detail.

The monthly profile shows that monthly GDP grew by 8.7% in June 2020, as lockdown measured eased, following growth of 2.4% in May 2020. Despite this, the level of output did not fully recover from the record falls seen across March and April 2020, and it has reduced by 17.2% compared with February 2020, before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


12 August 2020

Services, production and construction

There was widespread growth in services, production and construction during June 2020. However, the Index of Services, Index of Production and Construction output all remained well below their February 2020 levels in June 2020.

A detailed analysis of the impact on the output of businesses has been published in Coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy: June 2020.

The output of service industries remained 17.6% below the level of February 2020, growing by 7.7% in the latest month. The easing of lockdown measures, most notably in England, had the most positive impact in June 2020, with nearly half of growth from the wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles sector.

All sub-sectors of services showed an increase in growth in June 2020; however, output did not recover to the pre-lockdown levels of February 2020

Monthly output (March, April, May and June 2020) as a proportion of February 2020, UK, February 2020 output = 100%

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The production industries remained 11.6% below their February 2020 level, even after growth of 9.3% in the latest month, with manufacturing declining by 14.2% since February 2020 and growing by 11.0% since May 2020.

Most subsectors of manufacturing showed an increase in growth in June 2020; however, output did not recover to the pre-lockdown levels of February 2020

Monthly output (March, April, May and June 2020) as a proportion of February 2020, UK, February 2020 output = 100%

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Construction output grew by a record 23.5% in June 2020, substantially higher than the previous monthly growth of 7.6% in May 2020. Despite this strong monthly growth, the construction industry remained 24.8% below the February 2020 level. While there has been a recommencement of work, social distancing measures meant where businesses were working on premises and sites, the capacity and level of output were not at the same levels of work experienced prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Total construction new orders decreased by a record 51.1% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020 compared with Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020. This is the lowest level of new orders since quarterly records began in 1964. New orders measure the value of contracts that have been awarded for future work.


12 August 2020

Labour productivity sees largest fall since records began

The first flash estimate of labour productivity covering a period in which lockdown measures to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) were in place throughout has shown the steepest quarter-on-quarter drop in productivity since estimates began.

Labour productivity, as measured by output per hour, dropped by 2.5% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020 compared with the previous quarter.

Hospitality industry sees biggest productivity drop

For the first time, the latest figures also provide an experimental flash estimate of productivity by industry.

By far the most significant fall in productivity was in the hospitality industry. Output per hour in this industry decreased by 74.7%. This is because output (or production) over the period fell faster than the number of hours worked.

Conversely, there were some industries where productivity increased. The water supply industry saw an increase in output per hour of 14%, the largest recorded increase for this industry. Manufacturing of computers and electronics was close behind, with a 9.9% increase in output per hour. While both the output and number of hours worked in these industries dropped in Quarter 2 2020, because output fell less than hours worked, the result was an overall increase in output per hour.


12 August 2020

UK trade

Falls in imports and exports in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020 are detailed in today’s UK trade publication. This includes falls in both trade in goods and trade in services.

Most of the UK’s top trading partners have been significantly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the data in this release suggest evidence of coronavirus-related impacts on UK trade.

Imports fell by £35.2 billion to £122.3 billion, while exports fell by £26.7 billion to £130.9 billion. This has resulted in an increase in the total trade surplus, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, to £8.6 billion in Quarter 2 2020. This is the largest underlying total trade surplus on a three-month basis since records began in 1998.

The largest falls in both imports and exports of goods in Quarter 2 2020 were seen in machinery and transport equipment and fuels, which can be linked to the sharp drop in demand for road vehicles and oil owing to coronavirus-related restrictions.

The monthly trade data show early signs of recovery, with an increase in June 2020 for both imports and exports on May 2020. This follows relatively small movements in May, following large falls of both in April.


11 August 2020

UK labour market

Our latest figures on the UK labour market have now been published.

Early indicators for July 2020 suggest that the number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down around 730,000 compared with March 2020. Flows analysis suggests that the falls in May, June and July were mainly because of fewer people moving into payrolled employment.

Survey data show employment is weakening, with numbers of self-employed and part-time workers seeing reductions. Unemployment is largely unchanged because of increases in economic inactivity, with people out of work but not currently looking for work.

There are still a large number of people temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers – approximately 7.5 million in June 2020, with over 3 million of these being away for three months or more. There were also around 300,000 people away from work because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and receiving no pay in June 2020.

Hours worked has continued to fall reaching record lows both on the year and on the quarter. The average number of actual hours worked per week fell by a record 5.6 hours on the quarter to a record low of 25.8 hours in April to June 2020.

Pay fell for all measures in the three months to June 2020. Nominal regular pay growth for April to June 2020 is negative for the first time since records began in 2001, at negative 0.2%.

For May to July 2020, there were an estimated 370,000 vacancies in the UK, which is 10% higher than the record low in April to June 2020. Some smaller businesses are reporting taking on additional staff to meet coronavirus guidelines. Estimated vacancies for May to July 2020 are 453,000 fewer than for May to July 2019.

The Claimant Count, an Experimental Statistic, increased in July 2020 reaching 2.7 million. This includes both those who are working with low income or hours, and those who are not working.

Related

  • Labour market overview, UK

    Estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics for the UK.

  • UK trade

    Total value of UK exports and imports of goods and services in current prices, chained volume measures and implied deflators.

  • UK productivity flash estimate

    Flash estimate of labour productivity for Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020 based on the latest data from the gross domestic product (GDP) first quarterly estimate and labour market statistics.

  • Coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy

    Analysis of monthly growth for the production, services and construction industries in the UK economy between June and July 2020, highlighting the early impact from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • GDP monthly estimate, UK

    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.

  • Does exposure to air pollution increase the risk of dying from the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

    Our analysis measures the link between long-term exposure to dirty air and COVID-19 deaths in England.