Scots GDP flat, but employment improves

The output of the Scottish economy remained flat during the January to March quarter of 2016, according to gross domestic product (GDP) statistics from Scotland’s chief statistician.

However, employment in Scotland rose by 17,000 in the March to May 2016 quarter, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

The number of people in employment in Scotland is now 2,625,000.

Unemployment in Scotland fell by 18,000 in the March to May period and now stands at 152,000, according to ONS.

The Scottish unemployment rate is 5.5%, slightly above the rate of 4.9% for the whole of the UK.

The latest GDP release showed total output in the Scottish economy remained the same as the previous quarter.

On an annual basis, compared to the first quarter of 2015, Scottish GDP grew by 0.6%.

The services sector, which makes up nearly three quarters of the Scottish economy, grew by 0.4% during the latest quarter, but the production sector contracted by 1.2% and construction output contracted by 1.5%.

The more recent employment figures however, showed “a strengthening position for employment and unemployment” according to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government’s minister for business, innovation and energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “Today’s figures show that employment in Scotland increased by 17,000 over the quarter to March and May this year and that unemployment fell by 18,000 over the same period, falling faster than across the UK.

“While there is much to be welcomed from these figures, including 61,000 more people being employed now than at the pre-recession high point, we know that there is more that we can and must do.

“The Scottish economy has strong fundamentals, but as businesses face uncertainty during negotiations over our future relationship with the EU, we will not only work hard to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU, but will strive to make the most of current and future opportunities in our economy as set out in our economic strategy.”

The UK Government said that in June 2016, the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Scotland was 56,600 and claimant count, including Universal Credit, was 74,700.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said: “It is positive news that employment in Scotland has risen and unemployment has fallen during the second quarter of 2016 …

“But with Scotland’s economy showing little growth over the past year, and the country’s unemployment rate still higher than the UK overall, there is no room for complacency.

“The UK Government’s priority is working with the Scottish Government and other partners as ‘Team UK’, to make sure that we get the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU.”