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As expected, real GDP growth has slowed noticeably this year. The fall in the pound that followed the EU referendum has pushed up consumer price inflation and squeezed households' real incomes and spending. But the slowdown started slightly earlier than we expected in March.
As a result, the 0.9 per cent increase in real GDP between the end of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 was 0.2 percentage points weaker than we expected. This is a relatively small difference, but the breakdown of that GDP increase between employment and productivity growth has diverged from our forecast more significantly.
Employment increased by around 230,000 over the three quarters, more than twice as fast as expected, while average hours worked per person were broadly flat rather than falling as we had expected. As a result, total hours worked rose by 0.7 per cent rather than the 0.1 per cent we had forecast, while output per hour rose by 0.3 per cent rather than 1.1 per cent. This pattern of weaker productivity growth and stronger employment growth than we had been expecting has been a consistent feature of our forecasts for some time.
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The Office of Budget Responsibility Chairman Robert Chote says looking at some measures, it appears as if Britain is bust, but he says future taxes will put the country on a more sustainable footing.
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