• Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, May 2011

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. The ONS’s first estimate of Q1 2011 GDP showed that the economy grew by 0.5% compared with the previous quarter. Growth in Q1 came from the manufacturing sector (up by 1.1%) and the services sector (up by 0.9%). However, overall GDP growth was reined in by a steep decline in construction output (down by 4.7%). The Q1 outturn followed a 0.5% decline in GDP in Q4 2010 when bad weather was blamed for the contraction in activity. Taking the two quarters together, economic output remained unchanged over the six month period October 2010-March 2011.

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, April 2011

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. The decline in Q4 2010 GDP was revised from 0.6% to 0.5%. ONS estimated that if the effects of December’s winter weather were excluded, GDP would have been unchanged. Although data from early 2011 is mixed, the economy is likely to have returned to growth in Q1. The manufacturing sector continues to expand strongly and business confidence indicators are generally positive. However, with earnings growth failing to keep pace with rising inflation, consumer expenditure – which makes up around two-thirds of GDP – is likely to remain subdued in the near future.

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, Budget update

    Recent data show unemployment rose to its highest level since 1994 in the three months to January and CPI inflation increased to 4.4% in February (compared with average earnings growth of 2.3%). Meanwhile, public finance statistics show that for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2010/11 the government borrowed nearly 10% less than in the same period of 2009/10. As a result, full-year borrowing in 2010/11 is likely to be less than the OBR’s November forecast of £149 billion. For more information see the Library’s background briefing to the Budget. Following the Budget an additional Library briefing will be available

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, March 2011

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. Revisions to Q4 2010 GDP showed the economy had contracted more sharply than first thought, -0.6% compared with an initial figure of -0.5%. In addition, unemployment remains stuck around 2.5 million and average earnings are growing at around half the rate of inflation. Other indicators are more positive. The manufacturing sector is growing strongly, business sentiment is improving and retail sales recovered in January. [Article: 'Lending to small businesses' and 'The UK's aid programmes - where is the money going?']

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, February 2011

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. The 0.5% contraction in GDP in Q4 2010 surprised most economists who had predicted modest growth. The ONS blamed the impact of December’s weather for some, but not all, of the weakness. This together with other recent economic data – particularly increasing unemployment, rising inflation and falling consumer confidence – further amplify the uncertainty about the economy in 2011. [Articles:'GDP growth: It was the weather - wasn't it?' and 'Working out work - what's happening in the labour market?']

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, January 2011

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. Latest data from the labour market show the unemployment rate rising to 7.9% in the three months to October, the first quarterly increase since April. The number of people in employment fell during the same period, with the number of people in full-time employment still lower compared with a year ago. These figures, together with tax increases and above-target inflation, make for an uncertain economic outlook in 2011. [Articles:'The VAT increase' and 'Eurozone debt crises']

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Indicators, December 2010

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. Quarterly GDP growth of 0.8% in Q3 was confirmed, with broad gains across all sectors of the economy. Consumer spending in Q3 increased by only 0.3%, compared with a 0.7% rise in Q2, while government expenditure increased by 0.4% compared with a 1.0% rise in Q2. Exports rose by 2.2% in Q3; with imports increasing by only 0.7%, net trade provided a large positive contribution to overall GDP growth, raising hopes that the economy is starting to rebalance. [Articles:'Quantitative Easing - how does it work?' and 'Businesses and recession']

  • Research Briefing

    Economic indicators, November 2010

    This Research Paper series summarises the main economic indicators currently available for the UK, along with comparisons with other major OECD countries. It includes articles entitled 'The outlook for the public finances' and 'Which sectors are driving the economic recovery?' [Articles:'The outlook for the public finances' and 'Which sectors are driving the economic recovery?']

  • Research Briefing

    Postal Services Bill [Bill 78 of 2010-11]

    This Paper has been prepared for the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons of the Postal Services Bill. The Bill has four main parts. Part 1 provides for changes to the ownership structure of Royal Mail Holdings plc and its subsidiaries (including Post Office Ltd). Part 2 provides for Royal Mail’s historic pension deficit to be transferred to government. Part 3 provides for changes in the regulatory arrangements for postal services and Part 4 provides for a “special administration regime” should there be a risk to the universal postal service from the possibility of the provider becoming insolvent.