Latest ONS figures reveal UK economy grew by 0.8% during first quarter of 2014


April 2014

Latest ONS figures reveal UK economy grew by 0.8% during first quarter of 2014

Britainís resurgent economy grew by 0.8% in the first three months of 2014, according to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The first quarter estimate for this year is a small rise from the 0.7% figure recorded for the latest quarter of 2013, but is a considerable 3.1% rise from the same period last year.

The news has been welcomed by Chancellor George Osborne, who has now presided over 5 consecutive quarters of GDP growth- the longest sequence of positive growth since the start of the recession back in 2008.

Gross domestic product, or GDP, is simply the figure used to gauge a countryís economic performance, including the overall activity in the service, retail and goods sector.

The ONS revealed that the countryís economy is now just 0.6% lower than it was at its highest point back in 2008, with Mr Osborne arguing that the figures clearly illustrate that ìBritain is coming backî.

"The impact of the Great Recession is still being felt, but the foundations for a broad based recovery are now in place," he added.

"The biggest risk to economic security would be abandoning the plan that is laying those foundations."

However, Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has argued that whilst the statistics indicate that the economy is recovering, that reality does not reflect this as "millions of hardworking people are still feeling no recovery at all".

"Now that growth has finally returned, the question is whether ordinary working people will properly feel the benefit and we have a balanced recovery that's built to last," he added.


Despite the overwhelmingly positive nature of the ONSís latest disclosure, the 0.8% growth in the economy during the first quarter is still low than many expected, with a number of the countryís chief economists previously forecasting that the recent resurgence in the manufacturing, service and construction sector would have incurred a higher 1% growth during the first three months of 2014.

"While this figure has missed estimates, slightly, the overall feeling is still one of strength in the UK," said Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency brokers World First.

"In fact, this is the kind of news the economy needs - solid but not spectacular."

The performance of Britainís manufacturing industry was one of the primary reasons behind the countryís credible economic performance in the first quarter, with the ONSís figures indicating that output grew by 1.3%, the highest level in almost four years.

However, the service sector also proved to perform admirably during the first three months of 2014, with the ONS figures identifying a 0.9% growth from the previous quarter.

And total construction output also rose by 0.3%, despite a wave of poor and disruptive weather affecting the industry during the first two months of this year.

The news that all three sectors experienced growth in the first quarter of 2014 is a sign that the economy is beginning to experience a more balanced recovery, and will go a long way to quelling fears that the current upturn has been solely based around consumer spending promulgated by cheap borrowing costs.

The next target for the UK will likely be exceeding its pre-recession economic level, like its Western counterparts Germany and the USA.

This milestone is set to be attained by the summer according to a number of market analysts, in a year that could mark a watershed in the living standards of people in the post-recession UK.

Positive prognosis

Back at the start of this month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) compellingly forecasted that the UK would top the global economic performance charts by the end of 2014, estimating that it will grow by 2.9% during the course of the year.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), estimated that this figure would be around 2.7%, whilst the Bank of England (BoE) recently upgraded its growth forecast to 3.4%.

There has also been positive news on the growth in worker wages, with the ONSís latest disclosure revealing that the rise in earnings has finally exceeded the rate of inflation. This represented the first occasion that workers have seen their spending power rise in 6 years, and will need to continue in order for the country to cast itself out of its huge levels of personal debt and the ongoing ëcost of living crisisí that has seen so many struggle financially.