Scotland outperforms UK in employment and GDP
The latest labour market statistics covering the three month period December 2011-February 2012 show that employment in Scotland is rising and unemployment is falling, on the same day that GDP figures show a better performance in Scotland than in the rest of the UK and the Eurozone.
Scotland now has a lower rate of unemployment, a higher rate of employment, and lower economic inactivity than the UK as a whole.
First Minister Alex Salmond said that while there were now positive indications in the Scottish economy, there could be no room for complacency – and he has today written again to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling for an increase in capital spending to support the list of £300 million “shovel-ready” projects across Scotland that Mr Salmond sent to Mr Cameron on 2 March. The Prime Minister asked for such a list at the meeting between the First Minister and Prime Minister in Edinburgh in February.
In December-February 2012, the decrease in unemployment and increase in employment in Scotland was equivalent to over a third of the changes that took place in the UK.
Scotland’s headline unemployment level for people aged 16 and over fell by 12,000 with the rate falling by 0.4 percentage points over the three month period December-February 2012 to 8.1 per cent. The UK rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 8.3 percent.
This is the biggest fall in unemployment in Scotland for over a year, since November 2010-January 2011.
Scotland’s headline employment rate remains higher than the UK as a whole for the seventeenth consecutive month of labour market statistics.
The level of total employment in Scotland among those aged over 16 increased by 17,000, and the headline employment rate, which refers to the population aged 16-64, rose by 0.3 percentage points to 71.3 per cent. The UK employment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 70.4 per cent.
The economic inactivity rate for the population aged 16-64 in Scotland remained unchanged at 22.3 per cent. In the UK, the inactivity rate is 23.1 per cent.
The unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds in Scotland was 94,000 or 22.9 per cent for the three month period December-February 2012. However, it is important to note that in October-December 2011, 35 per cent of 16-24 year olds who were unemployed in Scotland were also in full time education, compared to the UK-wide figure of 30 per cent.
The employment rate for 16-24 year olds in Scotland was 52.5 per cent, 3.5 percentage points higher than the UK figure of 49.0 per cent.
At 66.6 per cent, the rate of female employment in Scotland remains the highest of all UK countries and higher than the UK as a whole (65.3 per cent).
Also published today were the latest National Statistics announced by Scotland’s Chief Statistician which show that Scottish GDP grew on an annual basis by 0.5 per cent to the end of December 2011 and fell by 0.1 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2011.
The fourth quarter statistics compare favourably with the UK and the Eurozone, where GDP fell by 0.3 per cent in both in the last quarter of 2011.
Electricity & Gas Supply made a significant contribution to the stronger Scottish figures, where output grew by 5.3 per cent in Scotland in the last quarter of 2011, compared to a fall of 5.3 per cent across the UK as a whole.
Statistics on manufactured exports were also published today. They show that the volume of exports grew by 4.8 per cent during 2011 as a whole and remained unchanged during the fourth quarter of 2011. The Food and Drink sector made the largest contribution to annual growth with an increase of 8.4 per cent over the year.
There was also significant annual growth in exports of Transport Equipment (7.9 per cent) and Textiles, Clothing & Leather (19.4 per cent), both of which have returned to pre-recession levels.
First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“This is the biggest fall in unemployment in Scotland for over a year, and Scotland now has lower unemployment, higher employment, and lower economic inactivity than the UK as a whole. Scotland’s GDP performance in the fourth quarter of 2011 was also better than the 0.3 per cent decline in the UK and the Eurozone – with a significant contribution from Scotland’s energy sector – but the 0.1 per cent decline underlines that there is absolutely no room for complacency.
“The actions of the Scottish Government and our agencies are paying dividends, and there have been very positive announcements recently – such as Gamesa’s decision to bring their wind power manufacturing facility and 800 jobs to Leith, and GlaxoSmithKline’s £100 million expansion plans for sites in Montrose and Irvine.
“But what is needed to now to propel recovery forward is an injection of increased capital spending – which is why I am writing again to David Cameron with the list of £300 million of ‘shovel-ready’ projects across Scotland to boost growth and support thousands of jobs.
“Of course, sending this list in advance of the UK Budget arose from my discussions with the Prime Minister in February, and there has to date been no response from the UK Government. In any event, it is now clear that substantial elements of the Chancellor’s Budget are subject to review, and therefore this is exactly the right time to re-present the compelling case for additional infrastructure investment to build sustained recovery.
“As today’s figures demonstrate, there are positive indications in the Scottish economy but more capital spending is vital to keep pushing jobs and recovery forward.
“With the full economic and financial powers of independence we could do even more – but in the meantime the UK Government should be helping, rather than hindering, the process of recovery."
Full details of labour market statistics.
Full details of GDP statistics.
Full details of export statistics.
The list of “shovel-ready” projects sent to the Prime Minister on 2 March.