ONS upgrades figures for UK economic performance

Economic statistics are always subject to revision and alteration as more data is submitted and clarified, and the first set of data often has to be refined.

Which is a real pain from the point of view of economic accountability, because sometimes the bean-counters turn around and suddenly announce that a set of data which the government of the day has been loudly trumpeting to defend it's achievements, or a set which all the opposition parties and critics of the government have been using to slag off the government, have been revised and the new figures no longer support that interpretation.

It was the latter that happened this week. The opposition parties had been making great play about the fact that Britain was supposedly the only country in the G7 whose economy had not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. We can't accuse them of having made the allegation in bad faith up to now, because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) did say that. But they have now changed their minds.

The ONS now say that the data on which this statement had been based was inaccurate and has now been revised.  The UK economy shrank less than was previously thought during the pandemic, and returned to pre-Covid levels almost two years ago: the ONS now say GDP was 0.6% higher than before Covid in the last quarter of 2021, not 1.2% smaller.

The revision also means that UK growth over the pandemic is now estimated to be the third fastest in the G7 over the pandemic, not the slowest.

I suppose the lesson to learn here is not to get too invested in the initial version of any economic statistic


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