This page contains data and analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from 28 September to 2 October 2020. Go to our live page for the most up-to-date insights on COVID-19.

30 September 2020

GDP, April to June 2020

UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have contracted by 19.8% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020, revised from the initial estimate of a 20.4% fall. This is the largest quarterly contraction in the UK economy since quarterly records began in 1955 and marks the second consecutive quarterly decline after a fall of a revised 2.5% in the previous quarter.

The GDP quarterly national accounts release captures the direct effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus.

There have been record quarterly falls in services, production and construction output in Quarter 2 2020, which have been particularly prevalent in those industries that have been most exposed to government restrictions.

There have been large movements in all types of expenditure in Quarter 2 2020, most notably private consumption, which reflected the implementation of public health restrictions, the mandated closures of non-essential shops and forms of social distancing.

Household consumption fell by 23.6% in Quarter 2 2020, which is the largest quarterly contraction on record. The decline was driven by falls in spending on restaurants and hotels, transport, and recreation and culture.

Government healthcare consumption fell by 30.4% in Quarter 2 2020. This largely reflects the postponement or cancellation of healthcare treatments as the NHS increased its critical care capacity in its response to dealing with the pandemic.

Business investment fell by 26.5% in Quarter 2 2020, with the most commonly cited impact of the coronavirus being either a reduction or delay in investment.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy has led to large falls in gross trade flows in and out of the UK, reflecting a marked fall in global trade demand as well as how restrictions have disrupted international supply chains.

30 September 2020

International comparison of GDP

Many countries have now published estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020. These estimates highlight how the coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic and the response to it have had an impact upon the global economy, with record declines reported in all of these countries.

The figures reflect how the size of the contractions have not been uniform across countries, in part reflecting the spread of the coronavirus in each country, and the timing of lockdown measures and when these were lifted. They also likely reflect the structural features of these economies, as some industries are more exposed to the response to the pandemic, such as those that involve interactions with other people.

Given the difference in timings of the imposition of lockdown measures between countries, it is useful to consider the cumulative fall in GDP in the first half of this year. The chart shows cumulative GDP growth in the first half of 2020 for all of the G7 economies.

International comparisons should be made with care if the estimates being compared are based on different approaches to measuring the volume of non-market output.

30 September 2020

Household savings and government borrowing

There were unprecedented sector movements in the non-financial accounts in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020, as the economic impacts of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic intensified. These are captured in the Quarterly sector accounts, UK: April to June 2020 publication, and in Coronavirus and its impact on the UK Institutional Sector Accounts: Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020.

The households saving ratio increased to a record 29.1% in the latest quarter, compared with 9.6% in the previous quarter, as households reduced their consumption spending by a record £80.5 billion (negative 24.2%).

This is the largest quarterly fall in household spending recorded and was driven by large falls in expenditure on restaurants and hotels, transport – particularly air transport and motor vehicles – and recreation and cultural services.

This contributed towards a marked increase to the household net lending position, to 20.0% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Quarter 2 2020 from 3.0% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020.

General government net borrowing position increased to a record 22.6% of GDP in the latest quarter from 4.6% in Quarter 1 as the government’s economic policy response to the coronavirus pandemic increased its support for businesses and individuals. This included the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the introduction of both the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the Small Business Grant Fund.

30 September 2020

Balance of payments: imports and exports

In Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020, total trade exports (£140.1 billion) decreased to their lowest levels since Quarter 2 2016, and imports (£123.2 billion) decreased to their lowest level since Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2010, as governments introduced restrictions to combat the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Balance of payments, UK: April to June 2020 presents a measure of cross-border transactions between the UK and the rest of the world.

The trade in goods balance was more volatile than usual over the course of 2019 and continues to influence UK trade statistics in 2020. With increased financial market volatility as the coronavirus spread around the world, trade in non-monetary gold has fluctuated from quarter to quarter, as it is viewed as a store of wealth during uncertain times. The largest changes for trade in goods in Quarter 2 2020 were in trade in finished manufactured goods, with decreases of exports by £11.9 billion and imports by £14.0 billion.

Decreases in both imports and exports of trade in services reflected large decreases in transport and travel services, as governments around the world introduced travel restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The primary income balance deficit – which records income the UK receives and pays on financial and other assets, along with compensation of employees – narrowed by £4.3 billion to £10.5 billion in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020. The most notable decreases were in foreign direct investment (FDI) where losses exceeded profits because of government restrictions in the UK and around the world.

The trade and primary income figures both affect the UK’s current account balance. The UK current account deficit narrowed to £2.8 billion in Quarter 2 2020, or 0.6% of gross domestic product (GDP). This was mostly because of erratic movements in the trading of precious metals, especially non-monetary gold.

28 September 2020

Characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19

Our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey has shown the number of infections in the community in England rising in recent weeks. New analysis of the characteristics of those testing positive shows that shows that in recent weeks, COVID-19 positivity rates have been higher amongst people who have travelled abroad, although increases are seen in both those who have and have not travelled.

Our latest analysis suggests that socially distant direct contact in younger age groups is an increasingly important factor in contracting COVID-19. For individuals aged under 35 years, positivity rates have increased over time among those who report having had socially distanced direct contact with six or more people aged 18 to 69 years. This means that reporting having had socially distanced direct contact with a larger number of people appears to be an increasingly important factor in rising positivity rates in the younger age groups.

However, we have found no evidence that patient-facing roles or working location are driving the greater increase in positivity rate in younger age groups in recent weeks.

Between 23 July and 10 September, rates have increased fastest primarily in the least deprived areas in each region.

COVID-19 infection rates have increased primarily in the least deprived areas

Estimated percentage testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, daily, by index of deprivation quintiles between 23 July and 10 September 2020, England

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Individuals aged under 35 years are showing increases in all areas, regardless of deprivation. In those aged 35 years and over, increases in positivity rates over time have only occurred in the less deprived areas

28 September 2020

Young people in the labour market

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on young people in the labour market is the focus of today’s Labour market economic analysis publication.

In the year to May to July 2020, the employment rate for young people reduced by 1.9 percentage points to 52.9%. The decrease in employment rate in the quarter to May to July 2020 was stronger for those aged 16 to 24 years, compared with all other age groups.

During the lockdown, young people were more likely than other age groups to be away from paid work. 38.7% of young people aged 16 to 19 years were temporarily away from work in this period, while 26.6% of those aged 20 to 24 years were also temporarily away from work. The people who were temporarily away from work include those who were on furlough.

Figures on take-up rates for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) show that young workers aged between ages 16 and 17 years have higher furloughing take-up rates (averaging 59%) than those aged 18 to 24 years (averaging 44%). Both of these rates were higher than the total take-up rate of 31%.


  • Labour market economic analysis, quarterly

    Analysis of changes in labour market participation of young people over the past 10 years including the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Based on UK labour market statistics for the period April to June 2011 to May to July 2020.

  • Balance of payments, UK

    A measure of cross-border transactions between the UK and rest of the world. Includes trade, income, capital transfers and foreign assets and liabilities.

  • Quarterly sector accounts, UK

    Detailed estimates of quarterly sector accounts that can be found in the UK Economic Accounts (UKEA).

  • GDP quarterly national accounts, UK

    Revised quarterly estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the UK. Uses additional data to provide a more precise indication of economic growth than the first estimate.