Continued growth in GDP and exports welcomed

Finance Secretary John Swinney today welcomed new figures that show that Scottish GDP grew by 0.5 per cent – the strongest since the second quarter of 2010 – and manufactured exports grew by 0.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 (July-September). Mr Swinney stepped up the call for a UK-wide jobs summit to agree an immediate programme of employment creation, in response to rising unemployment.

The new GDP figures coincided with the publication of the latest labour market statistics, which saw unemployment in Scotland increase by 19,000 in the three month period September-November 2011 to 8.6 per cent. UK-wide, unemployment increased by 118,000 to 8.4 per cent.

For the fourteenth consecutive month, the labour market statistics also show that the employment rate in Scotland remains higher than the UK-wide position, at 70.9 per cent compared to the UK rate of 70.3 per cent for the period September-November 2011.

Unemployment in Scotland remains below the rate in most other regions and nations of the UK, and is lower than in Wales, London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire & the Humber, the North East, and North West of England.

The claimant count in Scotland fell in December for the fourth consecutive month, by 1,400, with the rate down 0.1 percentage points to 5.3 per cent, while the UK-wide claimant count figure increased for the tenth consecutive month, by 1,200, with the rate unchanged at 5.0 per cent.

Scotland’s economic inactivity rate at 22.3 per cent remains lower than the UK-wide figure of 23.1 per cent.

Figures have also been released showing that over the year to the three-month period September-November 2011, the unemployment level for 16-24 year olds in Scotland increased to 105,000. It is important to note that in the most recently disaggregated quarterly figures, which cover the period July-September 2011, 35 per cent of young unemployed people in Scotland were also in full-time education, compared to a figure of 28 per cent UK-wide.

The employment rate in Scotland for 16-24 year-olds is 52.9 per cent - higher than the UK rate of 50.3 per cent.

New GDP and Manufacturing Exports figures were also published this morning. The latest GDP statistics show that the Scottish economy expanded by 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2011, and grew by 0.9 per cent on annual basis. UK-wide, GDP also grew 0.5 per cent in Q3 2011, and by 1.3 per cent annually.

The GDP growth figure for Scotland in the second quarter of 2011 has been revised up, from 0.1 per cent to 0.2 per cent. UK-wide, the figure for Q2 2011 has been revised down from 0.1 to 0.0 per cent.

The construction sector grew by 5.9 per cent in Scotland annually, compared to a 5.4 per cent increase UK-wide; the production sector grew by 1.7 per cent in Scotland, compared to a 0.4 per cent increase UK-wide.

The Index of Manufactured Exports showed 0.2 per cent growth in the third quarter of 2011 and growth of 2.7 per cent on an annual basis.

Following the publication of these statistics, Mr Swinney repeated calls on the Westminster government to instigate a ‘Plan MacB’ approach, and for a UK-wide jobs summit to agree an immediate programme of employment creation.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said: "These new figures show that there is a need for further sustained activity to support Scotland’s economic recovery – that is why the Scottish Government is using every lever currently available to us to secure new investment and create and safeguard jobs, including our new initiative this week to establish four Enterprise Areas for Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is also reiterating our call to the Chancellor for an urgent jobs summit – comprised of the four finance ministers of the Westminster government and the devolved administrations – to agree a programme of immediate employment creation, with a focus on increased infrastructure investment.

“In the face of severe cuts from Westminster, we are using all our current powers in Scotland to stimulate growth and job creation. We still have a position of higher employment and lower economic inactivity rates in Scotland compared to the UK as a whole, and a lower unemployment rate compared to most of the other nations and regions of the UK, but more needs to be done to improve employment opportunities.

“The recession in Scotland was shorter and shallower than across the UK. The latest quarterly GDP figures show that Scotland’s economy grew by 0.5 per cent in July-September 2011 – the strongest growth since the second quarter of 2010, and the same rate as the UK. The services sector in Scotland grew by 0.9 per cent over the quarter, reflecting a recovery in business and financial services, while manufacturing output grew by 0.9 per cent.

“And other figures show that manufactured exports continue to grow – by 2.7 per cent annually, with the largest increases in food and drink, and other manufacturing and chemicals. While export volumes have now increased for three consecutive quarters, business survey data suggests that export conditions were tough in the final quarter of 2011 in the face of the euro crisis.

“The Office for Budget Responsibility expects UK growth to have been negative in the last quarter of 2011, and basically flat through the first half of 2012, which is why the UK government urgently needs to bring forward capital investment to support growth and jobs.

“We cannot allow the recovery we are building in Scotland to be blown off course by the UK Government’s ill-judged economic policy.

“The announcements in the Autumn Statement were too little, too late – Scotland’s capital budget will still be cut by 3 billion pounds over the spending period, and over 70 per cent of the Barnett capital consequentials will not be available until after next year, when the problem is clearly now.

“More needs to be done to increase our prosperity and to tackle unemployment, particularly among young people. And later this month there will be a special session of the National Economic Forum dedicated to tackling youth unemployment.

“This Government is investing an additional 30 million pound to support youth employment, on top of 2 billion pounds already invested in opportunities for young people. With a record 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships this year and in each year of this parliament, and the 'Opportunities for All' programme to guarantee a training or learning opportunity for every 16-19 year-old, the Scottish Government has outlined our commitment to ensuring that our young people have the life chances they deserve – and we will do more with our dedicated Minister for Youth Employment.

“But only with access to all the levers of economic growth can we maximise Scotland's potential to secure new investment and jobs, which is why we will publish our consultation document next week for people to discuss the terms for Scotland’s independence referendum.

“In the meantime, we urge the Westminster government to follow the Scottish example and embrace a ‘Plan MacB’ approach for the UK economy – and work with the three devolved administrations through a Jobs Summit to agree an immediate programme of employment creation.”

Notes to editors

The annual changes in the GDP and Index of Manufactured Exports are calculated on four quarter on four quarter basis.

ONS Labour Market Statistics will be available via the following link:

GDP statistics are available via the following link: and

Index of Manufactured Export statistics are available via the following link:

For mor info contact Karen MacKinnon, Scottish Government : 0131 244 4044 / 07771 555 604

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