Flat growth

In one of our recent news stories, a union spokesperson was quoted as predicting "a flat growth of 3.275 million tonnes of road transport volumes, as in the fourth quarter of 2008".

'Flat growth' strikes me as an odd phrase, as it is in effect no growth at all. However Googling reveals it to be commonly used in economic contexts.

Here's an example from the BBC News website:

Example of the phrase 'flat growth' in a BBC News story

Anyone confused by the use of the phrase 'flat growth' in this headline would be enlightened by the first par ("the UK economy will not grow at all").


-- said...

186 results on Google News as well. I think people allow it because economic 'growth' is measured in relation to the previous year's activity. IOW 'growth' is a scale of measurement, hence can be positive, negative or flat.

Anonymous said...

They are referring to the rate of growth remaining the same. Perhaps they should write a flat growth rate, but most understand the meaning without it.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

I'm not sure that 'flat growth' is referring to growth remaining the same. It seems to be synonymous with 'no growth', and in this instance it is the size of the economy that is remaining the same (rather than the growth rate).

Anonymous said...

It's meaningless and should be outlawed.

Anonymous said...

It's financial services muppets doing what they do best - talking bollocks.