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Swinney hails 4-year growth in jobs market

John SwinneyFinance secretary John Swinney today hailed four years of continued growth in the Scottish jobs market and pledged it would be underpinned by business-friendly policies from the Holyrood government.

Rising demand for staff saw a “sharp and accelerated” rise in permanent jobs and starting salaries, according to the Bank of Scotland. The figures for October showed the Scottish jobs market outpacing the UK and the recovery expected to continue into next year.

Swinney said the Report on Jobs showed an improving employment picture for the 48th consecutive month.

“The report comes at a time when the Office for National Statistics figures published last week show that employment continues to rise and unemployment continues to fall in the Scottish economy. In addition, Scotland has the highest employment rate, lowest unemployment rate and lowest inactivity rate of all four UK nations.

“The latest budget for Scotland outlines key measures that will secure continued growth and further improvements in employment, for example through our £4.5 billion of infrastructure investment in 2015-16 and support for businesses by continuing to deliver the most competitive business tax environment in the UK.”

Donald MacRae, Chief Economist at Bank of Scotland,  said the labour market barometer was the fourth highest in the survey’s history – signalling further improvements in labour market conditions in Scotland.

“The number of people appointed to jobs increased, as did starting salaries. A rise in vacancies confirmed business confidence remains high. The recovery in the Scottish economy looks set to continue into 2015,” he said.

Today also saw the release of figures from the CBI which said SMEs were sharing the recovery in UK manufacturing, although there had been some slowing of growth in the last three months.

Small and medium-sized (SME) manufacturers’ output grew over the last three months though less quickly than in the previous quarter, according to the CBI’s SME Trends Survey.

But demand for the goods made by the 406 manufacturers surveyed was stronger at home than abroad. Domestic orders rose for the fifth quarter in a row in the three months to October, while export orders fell sharply, despite firms expecting modest improvement.

Prospects for the next three months are better. Firms predict export orders will stabilise and domestic orders will continue to grow.

There was more positive news on jobs, with numbers employed rising briskly for the third quarter in a row. Employment is expected to go on rising over the next three months, though at a slightly slower pace.

Fears that a lack of skilled workers will hold back firms’ ability to meet demand reduced, though concern is still above its long-run average.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said: “It’s reassuring to see smaller manufacturers sharing in the continuing recovery, with optimism, output and jobs all rising over the last three months. Sales in the strengthening UK market are looking good but firms are finding export orders much harder to secure.

“International political instability and weak growth in the Eurozone is holding back overseas demand.

“But, sentiment is still improving and firms expect overall orders and output to expand at a healthier pace over the next three months.”

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