Updated Aug 12, 2020 - World

Pandemic plunges U.K. into "largest recession on record"

A man wearing a face mask walks near the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England in the City of London on July 17

The scene near the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England in the City of London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. slumped into recession as its gross domestic product GDP shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: Per an ONS statement, "It is clear that the U.K. is in the largest recession on record." The U.K. has fared worse than any other major European economy from coronavirus lockdowns, Bloomberg notes. And Fnance Minister Rishi Sunak warns the situation is likely to worsen.

  • "I've said before that hard times were ahead, and today's figures confirm that hard times are here," he said in a statement.
  • "Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will."

Of note: It's the first time the U.K. has been in recession since 2009, as the country was impacted by the global financial crisis.

Driving the news: Jonathan Athow, the ONS deputy national statistician in economic statistics, said in a statement, "The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record."

  • Athow said the U.K. economy "began to bounce back in June with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and housebuilding continuing to recover."
  • However, GDP in June remained one sixth below its level in February, "before the virus struck," he noted.
"Overall, productivity saw its largest fall in the second quarter since the three-day week. Hospitality was worst hit, with productivity in that industry falling by three quarters in recent months."

By the numbers: More than 313,400 people have tested positive for the virus and over 46,600 have died, per Johns Hopkins.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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