Red faces at ONS as hopes for growth boost dashed

By Sarah Arnott
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:40

Arithmetical gremlins at the Office of National Statistics yesterday briefly raised the prospect of a considerable upward revision to Britain's lacklustre second-quarter economic growth numbers.

But figures showing 2.3 per cent growth in construction industry output in the second quarter – a big leap on the 0.5 per cent estimate in therecent GDP calculations – wererevised back down to 0.5 per cent when an error was spotted.

An embarrassed ONS blamed an "arithmetical error" in the late stages of its calculations. And by late afternoon, prospects of a major GDPupgrade faded as the bureau published a corrected version, with construction output in line at 0.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth.

"There will be no revision to the preliminary GDP estimates next month from construction, whatever happens in other sectors," an ONS spokesman said.

Alongside the quarter-on-quarter growth figures, the ONS report shows the total volume of construction output down by 1.6 per cent compared with the same period in 2010.

New work rose by 2.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter, while repair and maintenance fell by 3.2 per cent.

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