Is the recession really over?

Should we all be knocking back the (elderflower) champagne today? After all, according to figures released this morning, the UK is officially out of the recession. The figures from the Office of National Statistics show tiny positive signs, albeit nothing to write home to mother about. We all waited with baited breath for the numbers to emerge at 9.30am this morning and when they did they showed that the economy only grew by 0.1 per cent in the last three months of 2009. Economists had been expecting a figure closer to 0.4 per cent, so it was all a bit of a let down, really. What’s more, the experts are unsure how sustainable our exit from the recession is and warn that it could take years to pay back all the money the government has borrowed.

My question is this – do you feel as though your household has genuinely emerged from the recession yet? Personally, when I compare my current situation to the same period last year, I feel there are perhaps a few more pennies in my pocket. The world of freelance journalism was very badly affected by the credit crunch last year and budgets were slashed. Many staff journalists lost their jobs and were forced to go freelance, so as the pool of workers has increased, the work has also thinned.

What’s more, whole sections on newspapers and magazines have disappeared altogether due to cost cutting and reduced advertising. A friend of mine who specialises in one particular area of journalism has seen many of the sections that provided all of her work completely axed. The last time I saw her, she told me she might have to give up her flat and move in with a relative because she could no longer pay her rent. Now things are very slightly thawing in some areas, although not everywhere, and I’d hardly say we were out of the woods yet.

Other people I know in other industries who were made redundant last year – some of whom were out of work for six months or more – have got contract work, but while they’re earning, they’re still worrying about whether their contracts will be renewed. Another friend’s initial two week contract ended up being 9 months, but she is still waiting to hear if she will be kept on. A painter and decorator friend was out of work for six months now drives a lorry and works irregular hours to earn a crust and is grateful for the work. Another guy I know now works for his family’s business because his usual work has dried up. And while that uncertainty continues, there can’t be a genuine end to individuals’ personal recessions.

I was speaking to a City fund manager last week who disputed recent claims that unemployment has fallen. He pointed out that although official unemployment numbers are down, the number of people working part-time and in temporary employment had risen strongly. Many people have picked up casual work which makes the unemployment figures look better than they are.

I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, but if anything I think we are simply entering a new and prolonged period of austerity. It’s going to take much of the new decade to pay back what we and the government owe, it’s inevitable that indirect taxes will rise and, as a result, the belt-tightening is going to continue for some time. We’re all going to have to grit our teeth and get on with it the best we can. Fortunately all the great frugal tips so many of you have kindly shared with me on the blog over the last two years, will help soften the blow!

Are we are genuinely out of the recession yet? Are we over the worst of the credit crisis or are there more challenges yet to come? Leave a message and let me know your thoughts. Thanks, Piper.

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14 Responses to Is the recession really over?

  1. Clare says:

    Hang on a minute, just over a year ago we were hours away from a stone-aged bartering system. I had my pan at the ready in case I need to bang on it outside my bank Argentina-style, and now everything\’s back to normal? I don\’t for one minute believe that our economic worries are over. I\’m not a statistician, but to me 0.1 sounds distinctly like 0.0 rounded up just so we can say we\’re officially out of recession. The jobless figures don\’t take into account the people who are self-employed and don\’t show up in the figures because they\’re keeping their businesses ticking along at a reduced rate, or are relying on partners to support them.What happens when the liquidity that\’s been fuelling the stock markets gets withdrawn, as it must? And when interest rates go in the only direction they can go? (Up). We tightwads will have our day! (Or all those speculators will be drawn down to our level at least).

  2. caroline says:

    Its going to be bumpy ride for the recession , it will take couple months also it is predict could slip back negative grouth we most be cautious .

  3. Flo says:

    That sort of rise means nothing at all on the street. And that\’s the street where I live not some obscure street that proves anything the media wants it to prove. Buses are running very sharp on time as they are empty. The only people riding on buses here are the pensioners with passes. The local market town has been empty every time I have been through recently. The Metro Centre has looked like an empty barn when I\’ve been in this month. The only reason that they can now get younger, fit security staff is because there is no other work available – up till this recession there was a struggle to replace the elderly, past pension age gentlemen who would never have been able to chase the rascals. The self employed computer technician has no problems with building me a computer this week as he knows I\’ll pay. Obviously he\’s not over run with cash work then. And it\’s becoming very hard to get raffle money to help the gardeners association funds out of the local allotment holders when they pay their rent. They are pleading poverty – even at at 50p a strip of 5 tickets. This time last year they were all willing to part with £1.

  4. Bill says:

    All agency "employees" are unemployed, as they are not guaranteed a full week, or even a full shift, at any time. They receive little or no retainer, no sick-pay, holiday pay, or Benefit Rights, & will also find themselves devoid of any state Pension. They receive no bonus fers boneyard shift, Sundays & Bank Holidays are all worked at standard rate. Unworked Bank Holidays are unpaid. They are all classed as self-employed, even if they suffer an entire week, or even more, without work.At least 50% of those still yet in some form of employment, are Agency "temps". They will be the first ter be laid off, without any pay whatever, as it is much more legal, therefore much cheaper than to lay off the remaining regular work force. For at least 20 years industry have been boxing clever, consuming mostly unqualified, cheap labour, as temps from the agencies, in preference to the extreme expensive hobby of employing their own long term personnel. It will be many decades before this "sweat-shop" mentality is rectified, if ever. It is an extremely short sighted system/attitude.The agency workforce only receive no more than 50% of the gross invoice for their services, which limits their spending, & even survival opportunities. The agencies/gangmasters cash the other 50% of the invoice fers recruiting, running the payroll, & other admin, grossly inflating the cost of this short term labour force, therefore the cost of the resultant goods, or services.A simple case of an immediate 100% inflation, which is not only bankrupting every private individual & familly, but every small firm, & also the entire state (taxpayer). The only people gaining from this tragedy, are the agencies/gangmasters, the large Public Corporations, their directors & shareholders, most of whom are also corporate, similar to the banks. The politicians, & all other civil service, including clergy & monarchy, are also enjoying the thrills & spills of the high life, all at our expense.The clergy are not only civil service, but are also free-lance (self-employed) sub-contractors, all operating duty free, on contract to the almighty, & largest gangmaster of \’em all. Their contractor/gangmaster is classed as "offshore", therefore all contracts, & payments therefrom, are duty free.We have no hope of any form of Equality, Human, or Civil Rights anytime soon, without which the depression will simply sink ever deeper.

  5. piper says:

    I agree with you all. I can\’t see any noticeable difference on my high street and 0.1 per cent, as you point out Clare, is very close to 0.0%! Did you get to try out your pan? Sounds like you are itching to do so. And as you say, Bill, if you\’re an agency worker or contractor you are earning but the uncertainty hasn\’t gone away. You can\’t make many plans for the future.

  6. Bill says:

    At only 0.1% fers an entire quarter, the press/media must also be pretty desperate fers material. Hardly worth the commute ters office. If 0.1% is intended ter be good news, maybe they should save it up fers a whole year, I pity the Rain-Forest, so I do.

  7. Tom says:

    Even when the numbers sound good, the results aren\’t spectacular. A recession is two quarters of negative GDP. So in the 3rd quarter you can easily have GDP growth and still be below the GCP levels of 3 quarters ago or even the 1st recessionary quarter. But evenually real optomism takes over.

  8. Bill says:

    Is it really a whopping 0.1%?Could it just be another of \’em typos?

  9. Unknown says:

    Has anyone really noticed any difference over the past two years? For those of us unable to afford our own house, and far too close to retiring age anyway, rents have kept marching relentlessly upwards, petrol prices are still climbing, food costs are ever increasing, council tax is on the rise, and the only thing not going up is our wages.Unemployment is not going down. The unemployment figures are going down, but that is not the same thing at all. Companies are still closing, still laying people off, and taking on agency workers if they desperately need someone. I don\’t know any companies who are actively recruiting around this way, and this is the supposedly affluent belt. As an ex-bus driver, I know that unemployment is always shown up by bus driver recruitment. If even the bus companies aren\’t advertising for drivers, and they aren\’t, unemployment is really high.

  10. Peter says:

    Hi Piper!No, we haven\’t emerged from the Recession yet. I was made redundant last September and still can\’t find any new job. I\’ve joined 40 Recruitment Agencies but never hear a word back from them.There\’s no real jobs in the UK anymore, this situation made much worse by Governments shipping out our wealth creating manufacturing jobs to China, leaving only low paid service jobs here in UK!Absolute madness! Now we\’re in Recession we need those jobs!Doesn\’t make any sense at all if we as a nation, can\’t afford to manufacture and buy our own goods!!Job Centres?, complete waste of time if you want \’a real job.\’ Only jobs they offer are fine if you\’re single, just arrived into the country, live in a one bedroom bedsit and on income support!! All low wage jobs.No use at all for someone with a family to support and a real wage to earn!Job Centre told me to look at doing something else, as I\’d be unlikely to find work as a Buyer!!(that says it all about Britain and our lack of manufacturing industries!)Any \’real job\’ opportunities still advertised seem to require God himself to apply, as a mere mortal would not beable to do the amount of work now expected by employers. They seem to be looking for super human folk who can multitask 3 peoples work in record quick time! (on your first day, you\’d start with a 6 month backlog!)The only way out now in \’Recession Britain\’, is to try and do something on your own (like you), and ideally from home. To that end, I\’m now \’living in my shed\’, working on an invention which I hope will generate me an income some day. Slim hope but you never know. (Recessions apparently are the time to invent things!) I\’m also trying to get a book published of my collection of illustrated romantic poems, (albeit not sure if that can generate any sort of income), but I\’m told I have a talent for writing these, so nothing to loose!(anyone out there who can advise me on this, email –, in this Recession, we\’ve all got to look at alternatives as the future doesn\’t look good for the UK.In the meantime, back to my solar panels and the veggie garden and answer yet another phone call from someone trying to sell me House Insurance!! Aaarrgghhaa!Peter..

  11. piper says:

    Hello Peter. So sorry to hear about your job situation. It is so tough out there at the moment and it\’s hard to keep going. But you have such a positive attitude though, that I\’m sure something will come your way soon. Good for you re your invention and poems. Keep at it! Thanks for filling me in about the solar panels, too. Fantastic.

  12. Bill says:

    The only so-called employment I saw in the jobcentres back in the late 90\’s were all agencies. No direct employment whatever, with the exception of the most dubious floor scrubbing or dishwashing, which is also mostly in the grip of the "fly b night" agencies.Agencies are nout but the biggest rip-off & scam, where we oft end up paying them, fers the extremely dubious pleasure of being shafted by \’em. Red Driving School are charging £3,600 fers a 6 mth "course" ters ADI, or £4,600 fers 14 day fast track. They also double the DSA Test fees, from ca. £300, ters £600. They then "sell" dual control car hire, complete with "free" tax & insurance, at £185/wk.Specialist 2nd hand, dual control, car sales & hire, only charge £50/wk hire, complete with free tax, service, maintenance & MoT. Just as any car or commercial vehicle hire, they provide a free courtsey vehicle, same day, where necessary. To them the (trade) consumer is king. Obviously, they have no "retail" consumers. Our own private commercial insurance, even fers driver training, is not the balance of £6,750/annum (£135/wk). It is not even half of that.Just another agency, another perfectly legal scam, on an extremely large, nationwide scale. If yer are not currently full time employed, yer have no means of financing it. It is not fers unemployed, but strictly fers idle rich ter switch careers.The true cost of the ADI course, complete with DSA Testing, is less than £1,000. £500 fers online course, including text books, £50 fers optional extra books from amazon, & no more than £95 fers theory test, & two practical tests, @ ca. £95 each. If yer hire the car after the theory test, yer can go out & work as a freelance driving instructor, on a "provisional" licence, fers at least 6 weeks, which should clear all expences, before the two practical tests, possibly both the same day, fers the "full" license. Obviously, no "provisional" license can last fersever, but on such a DIY system, the "full" license has already payed fers itself, long before yer receive it!A Black Cab (Hackney Carriage) license is almost identical, & 2nd hand cars can be hired weekly, or purchased, on yer own (specialist) insurance, but are oft hired by the 12hr shift, complete with "free" insurance, & built-in state meter!A new Black Cab is at least £20,000, + tax & insurance, & also "concession" (Operators License), from the Traffic Commisioners.As fers recession, otherwise known as depression, all big banks & other lenders already have conclusive evidence that the housing price/income ratio, currently at 5.7 years gross income, (which means that I could easilly afford ter buy a £57,000 property, on me £120/wk Pension credit + housing & poll-tax benefit.), will possibly rise even further, before it bottoms out, & will take at least 5 years to roll back as far as a semi-respectable 4 years. The dream is that it will roll back as far as 3 years, but this could take as much as 7, or even 8 years to evolve. At some point during the future improvement, the entire cycle will flip back, into decline again, taking at least 2 years ter bottom out, possibly even 3, or even 4 times that, & at least the same again, ter return to some form of comfort zone.In short, the banks already know, that it will atke at least 5 years for a basic acceptable recovery, if it begins today, completely devoid of any serious glitch en-route. Any further delay in commencement, or any glitch en-route, & we could easilly be right back ters drawing board.As per,, including all parties, & banks, do not wish us ter know this, or ter see these figures, lest we panic. If we were all so intelligent, we could easilly bring back public lynchings, in which case they would be losing far more than their extremely extortionate salaries, & completely superfluous posts, as our lords, & masters.

  13. Bill says:

    The short story is that the banks, possibly also the, all expect much the same no. of repossessions fers the next two years, & fuel prices, inclusive various taxes are all continuing ter rise as we speak. I noticed last week that diesel has quietly crept back up at least 15p/L in less than 12mths since the last low point. This is almost 20% !!!They do not expect much change at all in the next 12 mnths. When they tell us that the situation is improving, or that they will turn the clock back at least 5 years, in the next 6 months, they are telling deliberate porkies, have a death wish, or both!

  14. Peter says:

    I think you\’ve got it right Bill, \’Rip off Britain\’ rules I\’m afraid as everyone gets more and more greedy!!Piper, two suggested future Blog subjects : 1) What 10 things would you do if you were the Government?2) Comments on how people have changed these last 20 years? e.g. I\’ve noticed neighbours don\’t talk to each other anymore, and keep their distance from each other. I\’ve always welcomed new arrivals down our road, but many I\’ve welcomed don\’t seem to want to reciprocate and one never sees them much again. Many people seem to be rude and abrupt, and have an attention span of a few seconds, no such thing as conversation anymore, and \’life long friends\’ seem to be a thing of the past.Am curious to see if others have noticed this decline in peoples behavior towards others?(just a suggestion!)Peter..

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