The Scottish Government’s robust action to protect recovery, support jobs and stimulate economic growth is delivering real results for Scotland according to Finance Secretary, John Swinney, today.

Mr Swinney was speaking as the latest figures show that unemployment in Scotland fell by 5,000, and employment rose by 18,000 – a sixth consecutive reported rise – during the three months to November 2010. By contrast, unemployment increased across the UK as a whole by 49,000, while employment fell during the same period by 69,000.

Scotland’s employment rate increased by 0.4 per cent over the same period to 70.7 per cent – compared to a 0.3 per cent decrease for the UK as a whole to 70.4 per cent. Similarly, economic inactivity in Scotland fell by 0.2 per cent to 22.7 per cent, compared to a 0.2 per cent increase UK-wide to 23.4 per cent.

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.

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.

“For two consecutive monthly labour market statistics releases, the labour market figures show falling unemployment and rising employment in Scotland, compared to rising unemployment and falling employment across the UK – and Scotland has a higher employment rate and lower economic inactivity rate compared to the UK as a whole.

“And the 0.5 per cent growth we saw in the third quarter of last year builds on Scotland’s strong performance in the second quarter of 2010, which saw the highest growth rate since the second quarter of 2006.

“We have seen strong growth in construction for three consecutive quarters, outperforming the UK as a whole – evidence that we were absolutely right to take decisive and comprehensive action through our Economic Recovery Plan, stimulating investment by bringing forward capital projects and delivering an infrastructure programme worth £3.3 billion in 2010/11.

“This commitment is paying off – as reflected in the strong performance we are seeing in construction, where the number of workforce jobs increased by 23,000 over the year to September, and at a time when our capital budget is being cut by Westminster by £800 million next year, we are bringing forward a £2.5 billion investment programme through the Non-Profit Distributing model.

“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. Supported by the Scottish Futures Trust and Scottish Government, 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.

“And I welcomed a deal between INEOS and Petrochina that will see investment in Grangemouth oil refinery and secure more than 2,000 Scottish jobs. Other recent negotiations with China have paved the way for major expansion potential into China and elsewhere and delivered exciting prospects for Scotland’s future economic growth.

“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.”

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