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It may be no comfort for millions of workers and businesses, but the U.K.’s coronavirus recession was no longer the worst in three centuries.
Revisions mean that gross domestic product fell by 9.69% in 2020. That makes it the deepest slump since 1921, when the economy shrank 9.71% in the aftermath of World War I.
The decline was previously estimated at 9.85%. Until then, the devastation wrought by the pandemic was thought to have exceeded all recessions since 1709, when the Great Frost led to a 13.4% contraction.
The revisions announced Thursday are part of the annual Blue Book, when the Office for National Statistics updates the national accounts based on new sources and methods. While ONS figures go back to 1948, long-run estimates are produced by the Bank of England.
The latest figures show that the U.K. had a marginally deeper downturn after the first lockdown was imposed but recovered a little more strongly thereafter. A 19.6% contraction in the second quarter of 2020 was followed by growth of 17.4% in the third.
Output between April and June this year nonetheless remained 3.3% below is pre-pandemic level, leaving the U.K. lagging most of its peers in the Group of Seven. Revisions to month-to-month changes to GDP will be published on Oct. 13.
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