The ONS records the effects of the halt imposed on the economy amid fears a crisis for employment has barely begun amid a recession
The UK has been officially tipped into the “largest recession on record”, according to figures that have charted the wide-spread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that the enforced ceasing of activity throughout the coronavirus lockdown meant that gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020 after a decrease of 2.2% during the first three months of the year.
The ONS determined that, by the end of June, the UK economy was a sixth below the pre-crisis level in February, as a monthly recovery for growth, which started in May, gathered more momentum during the month of June.
April proved to be the biggest downturn for the economy, as it was the first full month of restrictions to non-essential businesses and services in the country, but was followed by month-on-month rises of 2.4% in May and 8.7% during June as restrictions began to be relaxed.
The effects of the lockdown have also set the way for a crisis for employment, with separate figures being released on Tuesday showing the biggest slump for employment for over a decade in the April to June quarter.
This comes after company payrolls have dropped by 730,000 since the start of the COVID-19 national lockdown as the UK braces for a feared growth in unemployment as many have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus crisis.
ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said: “The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record.”
“The economy began to bounce back in June, with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and house-building continuing to recover.”
“Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.
“Overall, productivity saw its largest-ever fall in the second quarter. Hospitality was worst hit, with productivity in that industry falling by three-quarters in recent months.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said: “I said (months ago) hard times were coming and today’s numbers show that hard times are here.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their job and many more will.”
“What I would say though is difficult decisions do lie ahead for all of us but I want to reassure people we will get through this and nobody will be left without hope and opportunity.”
This comes after PizzaExpress has said that it could close around 67 of its restaurants throughout the UK, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk. The chain, which also revealed it has put itself up for sale, blamed the move on the “significantly more challenging environment” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
He signalled the government had put lives first but added: “It’s not a sustainable situation to have vast swathes of our economy essentially shut down.”
“And that’s why we have been able to successfully reopen bits, and do it in a safe way.”
“And as people get back to going shopping, or going out for a meal, or indeed getting back to their office, they will see that it’s a new normal, it’s a safe normal.”