Scottish Government figures released today show that GDP for the end of May was down by almost a quarter compared to the period prior to lockdown. Performance was 22.1 percent below the level for February although the economy grew by 1.5 percent in real terms.
In the hardest hit sector, accommodation and food services, output plunged by almost 90 percent over three months to May.
Alongside the 89.8 percent slump in the accommodation and food services, arts, culture and recreation saw a drop of 54.3 percent over the three months to May.
Output fell in nearly every industry in March and April, the statistics show, although the results for May were “more mixed”.
In the construction sector, total output is estimated to have increased by 8.2 percent in May, after a drop of 40.1 percent in April.
The Scottish Government released figures today
GDP has fallen 22.3 percent since February
Released today, the Scottish government report, said: “Some parts of the economy are estimated to have seen a pick-up in activity as firms and consumers adapted to physical distancing requirements, including some people returning to work.
“This can be seen in the manufacturing and wider production sectors, and in retail and wholesale and transport services.
“However, many of the other industries across the services sector experienced further falls in output or remained unchanged at low levels due to the ongoing lockdown and wider impacts on activity.”
Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, told Express.co.uk: “The GDP stats for the month of May from the Scottish Government show a modest rise in economic activity.
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“However, the disparity with pre lockdown figures clearly demonstrate the harsh reality facing companies across Scotland who are faced with the challenge of stimulating demand and managing new ways of operating.
“The Scottish & UK Government must work with business to accelerate investment to stimulate demand and protect jobs as well as providing long-term targeted support for the most affected sectors.’’
At the same time, additional figures released showed that Scotland’s latest overall unemployment rate was now 4.3 percent.
The Government’s latest labour market figures show that the number of people in work in Scotland fell by 47,000 between March and May, while total unemployment rose by 15,000 to stand at 120,000.
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Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said that Scotland needed more Westminster funding
Responding to the figures, Scottish Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop warned that the country was facing its worst unemployment crisis since the Eighties.
Addressing MSPs, Ms Hyslop said: “We are facing unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s and are ready to rise to this challenge.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has called for guaranteed jobs for all women after the figures also revealed five percent less women were in work than men.
Leader Richard Leonard wants the Scottish Government to implement a jobs guarantee similar to the scheme for young people announced as part of a £50 million funding package for youth employment, with a particular focus on getting women back to work.
The majority of the Scottish economy has now restarted this week
Mr Leonard said: “The rise in unemployment among women in Scotland is truly alarming, but the SNP don’t seem to realise just how serious this is.
“Unless the Scottish Government sets up a quality jobs guarantee scheme which includes targeted support for women as well as young people, the progress we have made in narrowing the gap between men and women in the workplace will be set back decades.”
Colin Borland, head of devolved nations at the Federation of Small Businesses, was shocked at the figures stressing they were likely to further deteriorate.
He added: “We’ve already seen one in ten of our members forced to make redundancies, with many more expecting to do so in the weeks ahead.
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“This isn’t a looming jobs crisis. Every indicator we see tells us it’s here now.”
In response to the concerns about GDP, Ms Hyslop added: “Although there was a slight rise in GDP in May, these figures once again confirm the serious impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the economy across the UK.”
“We are implementing a £230 million investment package to create jobs in construction, low-carbon schemes, digitisation and business support and last week we unveiled £38 million for high-growth companies.
“Yesterday, I outlined that the further £100 million for employment support would provide additional assistance to move into work or retrain.”