THE GREAT DIVIDE

 
Tim Wallace
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THE UK’S economic recovery is back on track after a raft of new figures released yesterday showed the economy growing in the first quarter of 2012.

The figures contrast starkly with the deteriorating picture in the Eurozone.

The country’s services sector output expanded at its fastest pace for almost two years in March, Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed yesterday.

Sales and jobs increased, pushing the index to 55.3 in the month, well above the “no change” level of 50 – and joining data from the construction and manufacturing sectors that showed strong growth over the whole first quarter.

In addition, economic activity is now at its highest since mid-2010, YouGov’s tracker survey showed yesterday, with consumer confidence remaining high and business activity close to its highest level ever.

The positive outlook is feeding through into the jobs market, with vacancies in the first quarter up nine per cent on the same period last year, recruiter Reed revealed this morning, and rising perceptions of job security among workers in YouGov’s survey.
“The threat of a technical recession has disappeared,” said Andrew Goodwin, senior economic advisor to the Ernst and Young Item Club.

“Our estimates, based on the monthly official data and the business surveys, suggest that GDP is likely to have grown by at least 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, reversing the decline in the final quarter of 2011.”