Britain’s economy grew by a record, but a contraction looms.

Discouraged workers add to the cloud over the labor market.

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Britain’s economy grew 15.5 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, the biggest quarterly expansion since officials started keeping records in 1955, according to the national statistics agency.

The economy surged back into action, following a deep recession in the first half of the year, after lockdown measures were eased, schools and offices were allowed to reopen, and the government funded a popular meal discount program to get people back into restaurants.

But the record expansion from July to September still left the British economy 9.7 percent smaller than it was at the end of 2019, and has been already overshadowed by the fact that economists believe Britain is in the midst of another contraction, with England under a second national lockdown. Britain passed a grim record on Wednesday, surpassing more than 50,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe.

The economic recovery started to slow in the late summer, and by September, the monthly increase in gross domestic product was just 1.1 percent. For the fourth quarter, the Bank of England has forecast that the economy will shrink by 2 percent, sending the recovery off course. That prospect prompted the government to extend its wage-subsidy program and grants to self-employed workers.

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