Surely by now firms would have laid off thousands of staff and the economy pushed into recession?
Certainly business confidence has been shot and grinding uncertainty has borne down on investment. But amid all the divinations of doom, numbers in work in Scotland have reached a new peak – barely credible given all the warnings to the contrary.
Between November and January, Scotland’s jobless total fell by 9,000 to 94,000, taking the unemployment rate down to 3.4 per cent – and below the UK’s 3.9 per cent. Numbers of Scots in work rose 13,000 to 2.59 million, with the employment rate for those of working age now up to 75.3 per cent. Said Scottish Business Minister Jamie Hepburn: “Despite the huge and continued challenges of Brexit, the Scottish economy and jobs market continues to strengthen.” He also hailed the fall in jobless rates for women – down to 2.6 per cent – and for young people – down to 7.4 per cent – both rates at record lows.
Meanwhile, with Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike ‘Dr Doom’ Russell gagged and confined to a parliamentary broom cupboard for a day, the latest GDP figures show the Scottish economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018, higher than the UK rate of 0.2 per cent. Compared to the same period last year, it has grown by 1.3 per cent. According to PwC’s latest economic forecast, growth next year will accelerate to 1.6 per cent. And all “despite Brexit”. Jings!