A report published by the Bank of Scotland confirms Scotland’s labour market has outperformed the UK as a whole for the third month in a row whilst also recording the lowest unemployment rate for 18 months (including a monthly fall in unemployment for the eighth consecutive month).
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth John Swinney said the June Bank of Scotland report shows “employment in Scotland rising and unemployment falling at seven-times the rate as in the rest of the UK.”
Mr Swinney said “We have prioritised the role of capital investment as a key driver of recovery, and workforce jobs in construction have increased by 11.6 per cent in Scotland in the year to March, compared to a 0.2 per cent fall across the UK as a whole. And last week’s PMI survey showed Scotland’s private sector expanding for the sixth consecutive month in June.”
However, according to the Bank of Scotland report, some of the biggest blackspot increases in the number of unemployed in the UK have been in Scotland. Of the 20 areas which had the highest rises in unemployment since 2008, seven were in Scotland – with rises of approximately 2.3 per cent in unemployment – principally in areas largely dependent on production.
This underscores the recent statement by First Minister Alex Salmond: “we need to reindustrialise Scotland”. The SNP plans to begin this reindustrialisation by creating 130,000 low carbon and renewable energy jobs in Scotland over the next nine years.
Mr Swinney added: “More needs to be done to support jobs, secure investment and boost economic activity across Scotland – with greater access to the key levers of economic growth, such as corporation tax and borrowing powers, we could do more to enhance investment and jobs in the Scottish economy, and give Scotland a major competitive advantage.”
The Finance Secretary described as “nonsensical” that most local authorites in Scotland don’t have the skills to stimulate local economies but can in fact legally borrow money to do so whereas the Scottish parliament which does have the skills to stimulate job growth and the economy cannot legally borrow funds.
As encouraging as the Bank of Scotland report is, John Swinney said, “there can be absolutely no grounds for complacency.”