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We re out of recession, so why the long face

Official data released tomorrow is expected to show that the UK crawled out of recession in the final quarter of 2009, at last following in the footsteps of most of its trade rivals in Europe and beyond.

This surely sets 2010 up to be a good year; yet analysts, the Bank of England governor and even Alistair Darling himself are refusing to crack open the bubbly just yet.

One reason for this is because of the way we calculate economic growth. Boffins study a range of survey data and use it to make a collective estimate of how much the economy has grown as a whole.

It means that as long as the balance of economic factors (business growth, retail sales and the like) are performing well, the overall result will be positive. But Britain is thought to be growing at a snail’s pace, meaning lots of bit of the economy are still performing poorly.

Economists say conditions have created a two-speed economy which is magnifying the North-South divide. Spending cuts, coupled with public and private debt mean we won’t get back to the good old days for some time to come – and employment is likely to continue edging up too.

Douglas McWilliams, the chief executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, has warned: "The model of financing public-sector jobs in the North from taxes in the South has irrevocably broken down. That means many regions face a painful adjustment while the private sector in these regions re-establishes itself."

The chancellor is also sceptical. In an interview yesterday ahead of seeing the economic growth data, he said: "I don’t know what the figures are because I don’t get them until Monday, but I remain cautious. There is still a lot of uncertainty around."

Entrepreneurs are likely to be unmoved whatever tomorrow’s pink pages reveal. Many have turned the recession to their advantage, while others have taken the opportunity to consolidate their businesses so that they will be solid in future.

Either way, none will be relying on favours from the economy or the government to help grow their businesses in 2010.

Related articles:Recession map shows Britain’s worst affected areasBritain emerges from recession


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