The ONS first estimate for GDP in the 1st Quarter of 2014 is an increase of 0.8% over Q4 of 2013. That seems on the surface a reasonable rate of progression, though on a closer look it remains rather unbalanced.
But even leaving aside questions of whether some (the richer) are doing better than others in this recovery, there is another question. If we take our quite fast-growing population into account, how much real progress have we made? One good way of looking at this is to take GDP per head of population, and see how it develops over time. ONS provide a dataset on this which currently goes up to Q4 of 2013. We have then estimated that there is ave of 0.6% for Q1 of 2014, once population growth is factored in. UK population generally is rising by around 0.8% per year.
So here is our chart for the last 10 years, taken from the ONS dataset plus our Q1 estimate. The vertical column, we should have said, is in £ per quarter.
You will see that over the last year, it is moving back upwards, having fallen for some time below the level the government inherited in 2010 – the product of austerity. We calculate that GDP per head is now about 1.4% higher than in Q2 2010 when the Coalition government took office. That is an average of just 0.35% per year so far. Which is, to be frank, almost invisible. And we still remain far below peak GDP per head in 2007, as the chart shows.
In fact, we’ve just clawed our way back to 2005!