ONS revises down United Kingdom economic growth rate

UK growth in 2017 downgraded as consumer spending wanes

He said: "These latest figures show 68,000 more people in employment compared to the pre-recession peak, with 17,000 more people in work over the year". There were 823,000 vacancies in the three months to January 2018, 70,000 more than at the same time past year.

GDP in the final three months of 2017 increased by 0.4% quarter-on-quarter, driven by business and financial services growth.

Chris Williamson at IHS Markit said: "The economy grew less than previously thought in the final three months of 2017, and a further slowdown looks likely at the start of 2018". Household budgets were under pressure a year ago as the fall in the pound following the Brexit vote led to prices increasing faster than wages.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said the unexpected rise "is not a sign of labour market weakness" because there was a "healthy rise in total employment".

Elsewhere, the statistics agency found an uptick in wages, which could conversely harden the resolve of some rate-setters at the Bank of England to raise interest rates again, possibly as soon as May.

"The absence of wage growth remains the missing piece of the puzzle in the UK's slow road to economic recovery - high employment should be the worker's best friend because that's what pushes up wages".

"If GDP is growing more than the number of people working in it, then productivity will grow as there is more growth per head".

The worse than expected results were due to slow growth in the production industries and shoppers facing higher prices in store, the ONS said.

With little more than a year to go to Brexit, executives will be hoping for some clarity to emerge over the coming days.

In the past decade, that engine of improved prosperity broke down. Offsetting that, the three months to September was revised up to 0.5 per cent.

In the same period, the number of people in employment in Scotland fell by 20,000 to stand at 2,632,000.

Because an economy is simply people and their economic activity, when the number of people grows, so does the economy.

The total 16-plus United Kingdom employment rate rose again to 75.2 per cent, still close to a record high.

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4% sequentially instead of 0.5% estimated initially. Maybe that old motor has some life in it yet.

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