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Britain shows fledgling signs of economic recovery

Britain shows fledgling signs of economic recovery

Britain is showing signs of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as it gradually relaxes its latest lockdown measures, according to a range of timely and forward-looking indicators. The world’s fifth-biggest economy shrank by almost 10% in 2020, a more severe slump than almost all its European peers after it locked down later and for longer than many of them. But helped by the fast rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, it is in the process of lifting its third lockdown while other countries in Europe have recently tightened restrictions. Non-essential retailers in England reopened on April 12 along with pubs and restaurants operating outdoors, and from May 17 restrictions will be lifted further to include indoor hospitality, performances and sporting events.

Here are some of the first signs that show the easing of lockdown is helping the recovery. Data from online hospitality booking service OpenTable show a recovery under way following the reopening of restaurants for outdoor service. Bookings were last down around 35% compared with their level in April 2019, roughly the same as in December before the start of the latest lockdown, the figures show.

Still, conditions in the labour market remain far from normal. The number of payrolled jobs were more than 800,000 below pre-pandemic levels last month, according to official data published on Tuesday. Some 363,000 people are classed as long-term unemployed after having been out of work for a year or more but with a similar number in the six-to-12-month bracket, that figure could soon rise sharply. Most economists think inflation is almost certain to rise later this year, although views differ on whether it will prove to be transitory.

Britain shows fledgling signs of economic recovery, Reuters, Apr 22

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