UK economy grew slightly in February but wet weather dampens construction output

The UK economy has grown slightly for the second month in the row, adding to hopes it is coming out of the 2023 recession.

The Office for National Statistics said Gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.1% in February, boosted by production and car manufacturing.

The ONS also revised the previous estimate for January from 0.2% to 0.3% growth, but said wet weather dampened construction output which fell by 1.9%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The production side of the economy was strong, contributing the most to the UK's overall growth as output from the sector rose 1.1% in February, compared to a 0.3% fall in January, but construction sector output fell by 1.9%.

"The economy grew slightly in February with widespread growth across manufacturing, particularly in the car sector," said ONS director of economic statistics Liz McKeown.

"Services also grew a little with public transport and haulage, and telecommunications having strong months.

"Partially offsetting this there were notable falls across construction as the wet weather hampered many building projects."

The UK has taken a slight step away from the recession. Credit: AP

The economy appears to be putting the 2023 recession behind it in the new year. A recession is defined by at least two quarters in a row where the economy contracts, as it did in the second half of 2023.

However, after the January and February readings showed growth, if the whole first quarter of 2024 is to be negative then March must show a drop of 1.29% or more.

"These figures are a welcome sign that the economy is turning a corner, and we can build on this progress if we stick to our plan," said Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also praised the latest results as "further evidence that the economy has turned a corner".

He said: "Inflation is down from over 11% to 3.4%, wages are rising faster than prices, and unemployment remains low.

"This shows how important it is to stick to our economic plan and is why we are able to reward work and cut taxes for millions of people from this month."

Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: "After 14 years of Conservative economic failure, Britain is worse off with low growth and high taxes.

"The Conservatives cannot fix the economy because they are the reason it is broken."

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney, meanwhile, criticised the government for having "no plan to fix the damage they've done to people's living standards"

She added: "Instead we have a prime minister and chancellor totally out of touch with families feeling the pinch.

"The only way to get the economy moving again is to kick this economically illiterate Conservative government out of office."

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