Outlook and appraisal [November 2004]

Ashcroft, Brian (2004) Outlook and appraisal [November 2004]. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 29 (3). pp. 3-11. ISSN 0306-7866

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Strong growth in the second quarter suggests that the Scottish economy has recovered from the doldrums of the previous three quarters. A rebound in service sector performance was the main reason. Manufacturing remains weak, although the sector has exhibited some positive growth over the last three quarters. Electronics production continues to contract in Scotland, whereas this is not the case in the UK as a whole. Financial and business services are leading the recovery in Scottish services, supported by retail and hotels and catering. Analysis of Scotland's GDP per head performance during the 1990s and the first two years of the current decade, highlights Scotland's relatively weaker productivity performance when compared to the UK. But Scotland also appears to have enjoyed a better labour market performance with a rising employment rate and movement of the population into the labour force contributing more to the growth of GDP per head than in the UK. This analysis highlights the productivity challenge facing Scotland. But it also emphasises the importance of migration and population enhancing policies to prevent a declining population from eroding many of the opportunities for future GDP per head growth.