Scots economy rebounds to outpace UK growth

UPDATE 2 — Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.8% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the previous three months — outpacing the quarterly growth of 0.2% for the UK economy as a whole.

The latest figures from Scotland’s chief statistician show the Scottish economy rebounding from negative growth in the previous quarter.

Expansion in the manufacturing sector helped the Scottish economy achieve the highest rate of quarterly growth since the end of 2014.

The Scottish economy grew by 0.7% on an annual basis when compared to the January-March quarter of 2016.

During the first quarter of 2017, output in the services industry in Scotland grew by 0.3%, production grew by 3.1% and construction contracted by 0.7%.

Output in the metals industry, which includes much of the oil and gas supply chain, was up significantly.

This follows the re-opening of the Dalzell steel plant after Scottish Government intervention to secure its future, and recent business survey evidence that output in the oil and gas supply chain may be stabilising.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “Today’s figures are welcome and reinforce the fact that the fundamentals of Scotland’s economy are strong.

“Scotland’s output is now 6% above the pre-recession level and unemployment is at its lowest ever level.

“Since late 2014 our growth rate has been impacted significantly by the fortunes of the North Sea with around two thirds of the slowdown in 2016 attributed to the onshore impact of lower oil prices.

“Today’s figures show a rise in output in industries linked to the North Sea for the first time since 2014.

“While there is no room for complacency, these figures — alongside a number of recent business surveys — indicate that there is growing confidence in the sector.

“Manufacturing output is also up, in part due to the resumption of steel production at the Dalzell plant after the Scottish Government intervened to save this key strategic asset.

“The re-opening of Dalzell is just one of the actions the Scottish Government is taking to boost manufacturing — we are also supporting expansion of the aluminium smelter at Lochaber and the development of a new manufacturing centre in Renfrewshire.”

David Mundell, the UK government’s Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “These are very encouraging figures.

“The Scottish economy is returning to growth and I am pleased to see that the manufacturing sector in particular is making the most of export opportunities.

“But, over the year, Scotland has continued to lag behind the UK as a whole — so there is still a lot of work to do.
“The Scottish Government has extensive powers at their disposal to grow and support the economy and these figures underline the need for our two governments to work together as we prepare to leave the EU.”