Britain is in recession after the economy shrank during the last two quarters of 2008 due to the deepening global financial crisis, according to the figures released by the Office of National Statistics on Friday.
The economy contracted by 1.5 per cent between October and December, more than the quarterly declines seen during the recession in the 1990s.
The last quarter decline came on top of a 0.6 per cent slump in the third quarter of 2008. Two or more consecutive quarters of contraction are regarded as a recession.
The fall in the fourth-quarter GDP was the biggest since the second quarter of 1980.
The downturn has affected all sectors of the economy. Unemployment has shot up close to 2 million. Manufacturing output proved to be the biggest drag on the economy, plummeting by 4.6 per cent in the fourth quarter.
The service sector slumped by 1 per cent, driven by a 2.4 per cent drop at hotels and restaurants. Financial and business services dropped by 0.5 per cent.
The government sector too, which was until recently the only sector that was still growing and hiring people, shrank by 0.5 per cent.