The economy bounced back to pre-COVID levels for the first time, but concerns about Omicron hit | Business newspaper

The economy bounced back to pre-COVID levels for the first time, but concerns about Omicron hit |  Business newspaper

Analysts had predicted a 0.4% rise in November.

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  • The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) had risen 0.9% during the month, up from a just 0.1% rise in October.

  • Latest COVID-19 updates from the UK and around the world

Chancellor Rishi Sunak hailed the ‘grit’ of the British people

However, despite November’s acceleration in growth, GDP is likely to have taken a hit in December when the Omicron coronavirus variant swept across the world.

It meant the world’s fifth-biggest economy was 0.7% bigger than it was in February 2020, the ONS said.

The loss of momentum is likely to have stretched into January with many firms reporting severe staff absences and consumers still wary of going out because of the highly contagious COVID-19 strain.

But health officials think the Omicron infections wave has now peaked in the UK and economists say the impact on the the economy is likely to be short-lived, allowing the Bank of England to continue raising interest rates.

Office for National Statistics chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “The economy grew strongly in the month before Omicron struck, with architects, retailers, couriers and accountants having a bumper month. “Construction also recovered from several weak months as many raw materials became easier to get hold of.

“This meant that monthly GDP exceeded its pre-pandemic level for the first time in November.” Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

2:09 Firms hit by staff shortages

“The government is continuing to support the economy, including through grants, loans and tax reliefs for businesses, and our Plan for Jobs is ensuring people up and down the country have fantastic opportunities. “We all have a vital part to play to protect lives and jobs, and I urge everyone to do theirs by getting boosted as soon as you can.”

He said: “It’s amazing to see the size of the economy back to pre-pandemic levels in November – a testament to the grit and determination of the British people. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the stronger-than-expected GDP figures, were down to the “grit” of the public.

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