Britain’s economy grew 15.5 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, the biggest quarterly expansion since officials started keeping records in 1955, according to the national statistics agency.
The economy surged back into action, following a deep recession in the first half of the year, after lockdown measures were eased, schools and offices were allowed to reopen, and the government funded a popular meal discount program to get people back into restaurants.
But the record expansion from July to September still left the British economy 9.7 percent smaller than it was at the end of 2019, and has been already overshadowed by the fact that economists believe Britain is in the midst of another contraction, with England under a second national lockdown. Britain passed a grim record on Wednesday, surpassing more than 50,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe.
The economic recovery started to slow in the late summer, and by September, the monthly increase in gross domestic product was just 1.1 percent. For the fourth quarter, the Bank of England has forecast that the economy will shrink by 2 percent, sending the recovery off course. That prospect prompted the government to extend its wage-subsidy program and grants to self-employed workers.
Britain’s economy is following a similar path as the rest of Europe, where a second wave of the pandemic has interrupted a recovery that began in the summer. But the data shows Britain suffering a deeper recession than other countries.
One reason for that, the Office for National Statistics noted, are differences in how Britain and the rest of Europe calculate changes to their health care and education sectors. Britain recorded a particularly steep decline in these sectors over the spring when nonurgent hospital treatments were delayed and schools were closed.
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