This page provides commentary and charts on the latest changes in the UK economy, using novel and rapid data sources as well as official statistics.

For an overview of our main economic indicators, visit our dashboard.

This page was last updated at 09:30 on 25 November 2022.

Cost of living continues to be biggest worry

25 November 2022 

The cost of living is the most important issue facing 93% of adults the UK today, figures for November have revealed.

In the period from 8 to 20 November 2022, around 9 in 10 (94%) adults reported their cost of living had increased compared with a year ago, while a lower percentage (76%) reported an increase in their cost of living compared with one month ago.

Adults said they were spending less on non-essentials (68%), and using less fuel, such as gas or electricity in their homes (63%).

The economy was the most important issue facing the UK today for 81% of adults.

In the latest period, people living in the most deprived fifth of areas in England were more likely to be worried (very or somewhat) about rising cost of living (84%) than those in least deprived areas (70%).

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Increase in young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs)

24 November 2022 

Increase in young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)

The number of those aged 16 to 24 years old who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) has increased.

Between July and September 2022, there was an estimated 724,000 NEETs in the UK (10.6%), up from 711,000 in April to June 2022. 

The increase was entirely affected by women, who made up an increase of 14,000 on the quarter (from April to June 2022). 

The number of young people who were NEET and economically inactive in July to September 2022 was estimated to be 490,000, an increase of 17,000 on the quarter (from April to June 2022). 

However, there was a record low in the number of young people in the UK who were NEET and unemployed, 218,000 of were aged 18 to 24 years.

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Social spending remains below pre-COVID-19 levels

24 November 2022 

Spending on “social” purchases, such as travel and eating out, remains below the levels seen before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the aggregate CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases.

“Social” spending fell by two percentage points in the week to 17 November 2022, to 96% of its February 2020 level.

In the same period, spending on goods that can be delayed, like clothes or furnishings, (“delayable” spending) rose 10 percentage points, matching its February 2020 average.

“Work-related” and “staple” spending were at 137% and 111% of their February 2020 levels, respectively, with little change on the previous week.

According to Revolut debit card data, spending on all categories except “travel and accommodation” are up on last year, with “automotive fuel” seeing the highest rise of 28 percentage points.

Total spending was 22 percentage points above pre-COVID-19 levels, while "entertainment" and "pubs, restaurants and fast food" were the only categories below that level, with decreases of 26 percentage points and 9 percentage points, respectively.

These data are not adjusted for the potential effect of inflation on the value of transactions.

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Most students struggling with higher living costs

23 November 2022

Half of students at English universities said they are experiencing minor or major financial difficulties (35% and 15%, respectively) amid rising living costs. More than three- quarters of students (77%) said they were concerned increased living costs may affect their course performance.

The survey data, collected from 24 October to 7 November 2022, highlight how rising food, housing and energy costs have affected university students.

Overall, 91% of students said their living costs had increased compared with last year. When asked how their costs had increased, these students reported higher food prices (93%), rent or mortgage costs (60%) and gas or electricity bills (58%).

In response, some students have sought to limit their spending. Nearly three-quarters (72%) said they were spending less on non-essential items.

Students are cutting spending, using savings to cope with rising living costs

Actions taken by students in response to rising cost-of-living, England, 24 October to 7 November 2022

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Nearly one in five students (19%) considered pausing their studies, and the same share considered studying remotely. A slightly smaller share (18%) considered moving to their family home and commuting to university.

The number of students who said they were actively planning to adjust their course or living situation is substantially smaller. Only 1% of students were planning to pause their studies, and only 2% were planning to change to remote -learning. Only 6% were planning to return to their family home and commute.

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Only professional and scientific pay matches rising prices

23 November 2022

Since May to August 2022, average wages (excluding bonuses) have risen slower than prices in all UK industries apart from the professional and scientific industry.

Inflation has been increasing steeply since late 2021, and growth in average wages has struggled to keep pace. In October 2022, the inflation rate including owner occupier’s housing costs (CPIH), reached 9.6%, the highest rate since December 1980.

When wage growth falls behind inflation, workers lose money in real terms, because they need a larger proportion of their wages to buy the same goods.

Wages in the property, information and communication, retail, and finance industries have also been growing faster than prices in recent years, but fell below inflation during the first half of 2022.

Only professional and scientific pay matches rising prices

Average weekly earnings annual growth rate for strongest growth industries, not seasonally adjusted, and inflation (CPIH), three-monthly averages, January to March 2015 to July to September 2022, UK

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Source: Office for National Statistics – Monthly Wages and Salaries Survey and Consumer price inflation

Bonus pay has helped with the rising inflation in some industries, especially finance, boosting growth in total pay (pay including bonuses) to match inflation for the first half of 2022.

Industries with more public sector jobs, like education and public administration, have seen some of the lowest pay growth in 2022, along with arts and recreation, mining, and power and water.

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Inflation at historic highs for most advanced economies

22 November 2022

Rising food and energy prices are contributing to global inflation, which is at its highest rate for decades in most G7 countries.

The war in Ukraine has put pressure on prices for foods such as grain and vegetable oil, while European countries dependent on Russian gas supplies have been more vulnerable to rising prices.

The UK has had the highest rate of energy price inflation in the G7 in recent months, peaking at 58% in July 2022.

Over two-thirds (69%) of 29 countries with comparable inflation figures saw high or very high inflation compared with 50-year trends.

Around three-quarters (79%) had Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rates above 6% in the year to September 2022. This compares with 28% at the time of the 2008 financial crisis.

Current global inflation rates remain below the highs seen in the 1970s, which followed two major oil shocks during the Yom-Kippur War of 1973 and the 1979 Revolution in Iran.

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Public sector borrowing reached £13.5 billion in October  

22 November 2022 

In October 2022, the public sector spent more than it received in taxes and other income, requiring it to borrow £13.5 billion, the fourth highest October borrowing on record. This was £4.4 billion more than that in October 2021 but £4.4 billion less than in October 2020.  

This month the public sector spent £91.2 billion, a rise of £8.8 billion compared with October 2021 and its income rose £4.5 billion to £77.6 billion. 

Central government is the largest part of the public sector and contains departments such as health, education and defence.

Central government current (or day-to-day) expenditure was £76.8 billion, £6.5 billion more than in October 2021. This includes the first payments under the government's energy support schemes to households and to domestic energy suppliers. 

Central government receipts were £70.2 billion, £0.7 billion less than in October last year. This reduction in central receipts was largely because of a £4.9 billion reduction in interest and dividend receipts received from the Bank of England.

Over the first seven months of the current financial year to October 2022, the public sector borrowed £84.4 billion, broadly three quarters of that borrowed in the same period last year.

The substantial increase in borrowing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a sharp increase in the total amount owed to private sector organisations (including overseas institutions). Public sector debt currently stands at just under £2.5 trillion, or 97.5% of the UK's annual gross domestic product (GDP).

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Retail sales volumes rise after State Funeral bank holiday

18 November 2022

Retail sales volumes are estimated to have risen by 0.6% in October 2022 following a fall of 1.5% in September.

September’s sales were affected by the additional bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, when many retailers were closed.

Increases over October 2022 were seen in all of the main sectors apart from food stores where sales volumes fell by 1.0%, leaving them 4.1% below their pre-coronavirus levels in February 2020.

Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 1.1% in October 2022 and were 1.7% below February 2020 levels.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 3.3% in October 2022, following a fall of 1.2% in September; these were 6.9% below their February 2020 levels.

Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes rose by 1.8% in October 2022 following a fall of 2.5% in September; sales volumes were 21.2% above their February 2020 levels.

In the three months to October 2022, overall sales volumes fell by 2.4% when compared with the previous three months; this continues the downward trend since summer 2021.

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Almost a quarter of businesses suffer a drop in performance

17 November 2022

Businesses were also asked about their performance expectations for the next 12 months. The proportion of businesses expecting their performance to decrease over the next 12 months was 16%, with 19% expecting their performance to increase.

More than a third (35%) of real estate businesses expect a decrease in their performance over the next 12 months. In contrast, 32% of manufacturing businesses said they expect their performance to increase over the same period.

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All English regions saw GDP grow in three months to March

17 November 2022

All English regions experienced quarter-on-quarter growth in their respective gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of an area’s economic activity.

The North East and East Midlands experienced the greatest growth, at 1.2% in both regions. Overall, England’s GDP grew by 0.8%.

Similarly, all English regions experienced economic growth in both the construction and services sectors during Quarter 1 2022. GDP in the construction sector grew the most in the North West (11.8% quarter-on-quarter), followed by the South East and the North East (10.0% and 8.7%, respectively). The largest quarter-on-quarter growth in the services sector was in the South West (1.3%) and London (1.1%).

Within the production sector, however, the GDP of seven regions of England contracted during Quarter 1 2022. The largest decrease occurred in the East of England (4.3%) followed by the West Midlands (4.1%), London (3.9%) and the South West (3.9%). Only the East Midlands and the North East showed positive growth in their production sectors, at 2.0% and 0.1%, respectively.

The economies of Scotland and Northern Ireland also grew by 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively, in Quarter 1 2022. Wales was the only country not to experience GDP growth in that timespan.

It should be noted these estimates are designated as experimental statistics and should be interpreted with caution. Regional data can be volatile and quarterly movements should be considered alongside the long-term trend. To assist interpretation, we have published quarter-on-same-quarter-a-year-earlier alongside the latest quarter-on-quarter estimates in our full bulletin.

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Long-term sickness drove quarterly rise in economic inactivity 

15 November 2022 

Economic inactivity levels rose in the three months to September 2022, driven by record-high numbers of people classed as long-term sick. 

The rate of UK economic inactivity increased on the previous quarter to 21.6% in July to September 2022.

However, separate ONS research shows that more than two-thirds of people who have become inactive due to long-term sickness since 2021 were already out of the labour market for another reason. 

The employment rate for July to September 2022 was 75.5%, which was largely unchanged on the previous quarter (April to June 2022). 

The most timely estimate of payrolled employees for October 2022 shows another monthly increase, up 74,000 on the revised September 2022 figures, to a record 29.8 million. 

The unemployment rate for July to September 2022 fell by 0.2 percentage points on the quarter to 3.6%. 

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 6.0% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 5.7% among employees in July to September 2022. However, in real terms (adjusted for inflation), total pay fell by 2.6% and regular pay fell by 2.7%, over the year. 

In August to October 2022, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 46,000 to 1,225,000. Despite four consecutive quarterly falls, the number of vacancies remains at historically high levels. 

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