SCOTLAND’S economy is showing “positive” signs of recovery after the country’s jobless total fell below 200,000 for the first time in four years with a drop of 11,000, the latest figures today show.
GDP also expanded for the second successive quarter with growth of 0.5 per cent, prompting Government ministers to hail the upturn.
The number of unemployed Scots fell to 197,000 in the period December last year and February and the unemployment rate is 7.3 per cent north of the border, which is below the average of 7.9 per cent for the whole of the UK.
The number of Scots in work has also increased by 39,000, with the number of Scots in employment in Scotland now standing at 2.5 million.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: “Today’s figures show further signs of a positive outlook for employment opportunities in Scotland and they are important news for each and every person who has moved into a job.
“There is more to be done, but we should be encouraged by the increase in those moving into employment and the government will continue to work hard to balance the economy and get more people back into work.
“Our focus remains on supporting individuals to do so. We know that every person taking up a job helps move the economy into a stronger position for the future.”
The growth in Scotland’s economy between October to December last year was is partly due to a large increase in electricity and gas supply, which included strong growth in renewable energy output over the quarter.
Visiting Scottish Power’s Hamilton offices to announce a major jobs boost Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Today’s figures show the highest increase in employment in a single quarter for twelve years with an increase of 39,000 jobs and unemployment is now below the 200,000 mark for the first time in over three years.
“These figures also show Scotland’s economy growing faster than the UK’s at the end of 2012 with a second consecutive quarter of growth.
“Scotland now has a higher employment rate and lower unemployment rate than the UK, stronger economic growth and youth unemployment figures that continue to improve and out-perform the UK.”