Scottish economy moving in right direction

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Unemployment has fallen and economic growth has increased in Scotland according to the latest official figures from the Scottish Government.

The fall of unemployment in Scotland is in contrast to a rise in unemployment across the rest of the UK.

Figures show that unemployment in Scotland fell by 5,000 and those in work rose by 18,000 during the three months to November 2010.  By contrast, unemployment increased across the UK as a whole by 49,000, while those working fell during the same period by 69,000.

In addition, separate statistics showed that Scotland’s economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2010, driven by strong performance in the construction sector – which was up 6.2 per cent, and outperformed the UK rate of 3.9 per cent over the same period.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the figures demonstrated that the Scottish Government’s robust action to protect recovery, support jobs and stimulate economic growth is delivering real results for Scotland.

Speaking yesterday Mr Swinney said:

“After a shorter and shallower recession than the UK as a whole, today’s figures present a strengthening economic picture and show further signs of recovery, built in Scotland and with its foundations in the construction sector and our capital spending programme.

“Just yesterday Enterprise Minister Jim Mather visited the site of the £5.7 million South East hub initiative in Edinburgh – the first of five hub territories being developed across Scotland. 

“… these projects will bring together different public bodies to deliver greater value for the public purse and deliver around £1 billion of community infrastructure over the next ten years.

“Last week, the First Minister announced that leading online retailer Amazon is to create 950 jobs in Dunfermline and Gourock, and is expected to create a further 1,500 temporary jobs during peak periods.”

The Finance Minister welcomed the figures but insisted that the recovery was at a critical stage and was being threatened by the UK coalition’s cuts.  Mr Swinney repeated calls for the Scottish parliament to be given full fiscal powers, arguing that they were needed in order to grow the economy.

He added:

“But while today’s figures are welcome, Scotland’s recovery remains at a crucial stage. We must continue to bring unemployment down, and the UK Government is wrong to threaten the positive signs we are seeing by cutting the Scottish budget by some £1.3 billion next year – including the massive £800 million cut to our capital budget. This underlines the urgent need for Scotland to secure full economic and financial powers so that the Scottish Government and Parliament have all the tools needed to sustain growth, further boost employment and put Scotland on the path to long-term economic success.”