Economic recovery in doubt as figures show UK workforce produces 20% less than other major economies

‘Bad news’ for British productivity leads to questions over George Osborne’s claims we are in ‘early stages of recovery’

The productivity of the British workforce is lagging behind the rest of the world by the worst margin in almost two decades, according to official figures.

Despite George Osborne’s claims that the UK economy is in the “early stages of recovery”, figures released today show that the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) key measure of productivity – output per worker – puts Britain nearly 20 per cent below the average for the rest of the world’s major industrialised economies.

The ONS found that the UK’s output actually dropped in 2012 when that of the rest of the G7 countries rose, and that shift has created the widest gap since 1994.

The figures, which are a “first estimate” of how Britain compared with France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy and the US last year, also showed that the amount workers here contribute to the economy has even dropped 2 per cent since 2007 – before the economic crisis hit.

John Philpott, the former chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the weak productivity figures prove the UK is not experiencing a “genuine recovery”.

“The bad news is that the UK is falling fast down the international productivity ranking,” he said.

“The relative improvement in the UK's productivity performance from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s has clearly gone into reverse in an economy reliant on falling real wages, rather than increased output, as the main driver of employment growth.

“While the real wage squeeze is preferable to even higher unemployment, these latest international productivity figures show the UK economy can't be deemed to be experiencing a genuine recovery until we see firm evidence of both stronger output growth and rising real incomes.”

Today’s figures put in doubt Chancellor George Osborne’s claims the country is in the “early stages of recovery” and “turning a corner”.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors' annual convention he said: “The British economy is looking better. The economy is growing in all sectors. British businesses have now created 1.4 million new jobs.

“And almost five years to the day after the near collapse of the British banking system we have started to sell off our shares in the banks and to get taxpayers' money back.

“Britain is turning a corner but we have a long way to go.

“At home, our economy is still in the early stages of recovery. Unemployment and our deficit are both still too high.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'