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Outlook and appraisal [December 1990]

Love, Jim and Ashcroft, Brian and Brooks, Richard and Dourmashkin, Neil and Draper, Paul and Dunlop, Stewart and Magee, Lesley and Malloy, Eleanor and Monaghan, Claire and McGregor, Peter and McNicoll, Iain and McRory, Eric and Perman, Roger and Stevens, Jim and Swales, Kim (1990) Outlook and appraisal [December 1990]. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 16 (2). pp. 1-2. ISSN 0306-7866

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Abstract

Since the beginning of 1990 the Scottish economy has shown a marked resilience to the downturn which has recently become so marked in the southern part of the United Kingdom. Arguments about the reliability of certain data notwithstanding, there is a considerable array of appropriate statistics which make a strong case when considered together. Despite an apparent slump in the second quarter, the Scottish index of production and construction showed annual growth in the year to June of 4.8%, almost five times that of the UK. In manufacturing, provisional estimates indicate annual growth of 6.2% compared with UK growth of 1.6%. Evidence from the Scottish Chambers' Business Survey and from more anecdotal evidence indicate that throughout much of the year consumer spending in Scotland has remained more buoyant than for the UK as a whole, and house prices have continued to show modest gains in Scotland compared with marked falls in southern Britain. However, perhaps the most impressive performance has come in the labour market, an area in which Scotland has traditionally fared relatively poorly. Scottish unemployment has continued to decline modestly for fully seven months after UK unemployment began to rise in April, and while UK vacancies fell by one-third in the year to October the corresponding Scottish decline in vacancies was only 5%. Scottish unemployment was still 1.9 percentage points above that of the UK in October, but the gap has narrowed considerably over the last year.