Anthony Hilton: These numbers don’t add up to a recession


The unemployment figures came out on Thursday and showed a better-than-expected improvement, with the rate now the lowest since December 2010.

By historical standards, though, it is still high at 7.8 per cent, and this was widely taken as a sign that the UK is still mired in recession, and much worse off than we were before the financial crash.

But consider this. In the second quarter of 2008, the last one before the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent the economic world into its tailspin, there were 29.6 million people employed in this country. This week’s figures said there were now 29.7 million people employed – more than in the boom.

Separately, this week’s figures also showed that the average number of hours worked per week – regardless of who worked them – had also increased to a record  952 million.

Neither of those numbers is compatible with a recession, depression, stagnation or whatever.  So is the glass half full or half empty?