Economy tracker: GDPContinue reading the main story Latest news:
The UK economy grew by 0.3% in the first three months of 2013, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.
The growth meant that the UK economy avoided falling back into its third recession in five years, a so-called triple-dip recession.
The ONS said that strong growth in the services sector and a recovery in North Sea oil and gas output helped the economy to grow between January and March.Understanding GDP:
- Gross domestic product is a measure of a country's economic activity, namely of all the services and goods produced in a year
- It is based on a huge survey of businesses and government departments compiled by the Office for National Statistics
- An economy is generally considered to be in recession if it has contracted for two consecutive quarters
- The first figures for any quarter are known as the "flash estimate" as they are based on incomplete data. The figures are revised at least twice as more information is collected
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After 1992, the UK economy and average household incomes enjoyed a period of unbroken growth.
But in 2008, the global financial crisis plunged the UK into its longest and deepest recession since comparable records began in the 1950s.
More than a million people lost their jobs as businesses - from shops to manufacturers and banks - either closed or laid off staff.
Consumer spending had been rising in the years leading up to the crisis thanks to a buoyant housing market and cheap and easy credit.
But the credit crunch and job fears meant consumers cut spending, deciding to pay off debt and save instead.
A fall in demand at home, and from abroad, hit businesses. They also found that borrowing from banks - which most rely on - was harder or more expensive.
The period since the start of the financial crisis has been categorised by short bursts of growth and contraction in what the Bank of England has described as a "zigzag" path to recovery.
Others talk of the economy "flatlining": In previous recessions recovery was well under way by this stage, four years since the start of the downturn.