Tue | Sep 29, 2020

UK records deepest recession among top economies

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2020 | 10:55 AM
In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, a woman wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus rides a bicycle past a job centre in Shepherd's Bush as the lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus continues in London. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)

LONDON (AP) — Britain has suffered the deepest recession among the world’s top economies this year, shrinking by a fifth in the second quarter alone when much of the economy was mothballed as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The 20.4% quarterly drop is the worst since records began in 1955, the Office for National Statistics said and means Britain is in recession.

While many of the lockdown restrictions have since been eased, the country faces a tough time in coming months, with unemployment likely to spike as the government phases out a support program that has effectively kept nearly 10 million workers on company payrolls.

Britain’s recession is deeper than those recorded by comparable economies in Europe, notably Germany, France, and Italy, or by the United States.

Canada and Japan, the remaining members of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, have yet to publish their second-quarter numbers but no economist thinks they will be as bad as the UK.’s.

Kallum Pickering, senior economist at Berenberg Bank, said the main reason why the U.K. economy has fared worse is that the lockdown was introduced at “a later stage” in the virus outbreak, particularly when compared with others in Europe.

By the time Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the lockdown on March 23, the UK had “a bigger first wave” than could have otherwise been the case, meaning restrictions had to go on for longer. Shops in Germany, for example, reopened on May 6 compared with June 15 in England.

The U.K. has the highest official coronavirus death toll in Europe with 46,611 deaths.

The actual toll is believed to be higher as the official dataset only incorporates those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

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