The UK economy - the latest data

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A roundup of the latest data and analysis on the UK economy, business and jobs following Brexit and during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Key highlights detailed in the report show:

March 2021 saw UK house price growth at its highest level since August 2007.

The UK’s average house price now stands at a record level of £256,000.

It has increased by 10.2% in the year to March 2021, up from 9.2% in the year to February 2021.

Inflation returned to its pre-pandemic level.

Consumer prices rose by 1.6% in the 12 months to April 2021, according to the lead measure of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH).

This is up from 1.0% to March and the first time since July 2020 that inflation has been over 1%.

There is a decrease in the unemployment rate, while the employment rate increased.

Early estimates for April 2021 indicate that there were 28.3 million payrolled employees in the UK, a fall of 0.9% compared with the same period of the previous year and a decline of 257,000 people over the 12-month period.

The number of payroll employees has increased for the fifth consecutive month but remains 772,000 below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.

Output per hour, a measure of labour productivity, grew by 1.0% in Quarter 1 (Jan to March) 2021 compared with the same quarter in 2020, and grew by 0.8% compared with the previous quarter, Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2020.

The quarterly and annual increases are the result of total hours worked in the economy declining by more than gross value added (GVA), likely due to the lockdown restrictions in force across the UK during much of this period.

The ONS Economic activity real-time indicators: May 20, 2021 show that:

In the week to Monday May 17, 2021, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners was at 73% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019, a 13 percentage point increase from the previous week; this was in part driven by a notable rise to UK seated diners on Monday 17 May 2021, the day on which indoor dining started to reopen across the UK.

The proportion of businesses currently trading has remained stable, at 83% from mid-April to mid-May 2021, and a further 5% of businesses intend to restart trading in the next two weeks.

The volume of online job adverts on May 14, 2021 had increased across all categories when compared with May 7, 2021 and was at 114% of its February 2020 average level.

In the week to May 15, 2021, UK retail footfall was at 72% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019; this remains much stronger than the levels seen earlier in the year (before restrictions eased), but is still considerably lower than that seen before the coronavirus (COVID-19).
All things considered the news is positive and the economy is bouncing back from lockdown.

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