The British economy shrank by a colossal 20.4% in April, the first full month that the country was in its coronavirus lockdown, official figures showed Friday. The monthly decline, unprecedented in both scale and speed, had been expected given that much of the economy was shuttered as part of the lockdown, which was put in place on March 23. Following on from March's 5.8% decline, the UK economy has contracted by around a quarter in just two months, the AP reports. With much of the economy still mothballed in May and June, the UK is heading for one of its deepest recessions ever—the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned Thursday that the UK. is set to be the hardest-hit industrial economy this year.
Unemployment has gone up during the pandemic but government support measures have helped keep a lid on the increase. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the umbrella Trades Union Congress, said targeted support for hard-hit sectors of the economy is needed, as well as a jobs guarantee to help those who lose work. "The more people in work, the faster we will work our way out of recession," she said. A more detailed look at the April figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that all areas of the economy were hit during the month, in particular pubs, education, health, and car sales. Jonathan Athow, Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics, said April’s fall is "the biggest the UK has ever seen" and "almost 10 times larger than the steepest pre-COVID-19 fall."
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