'The January unemployment figures provide a very encouraging start to 1996 with the seasonally adjusted total in Scotland falling by 1,800. The figures also reveal that long term unemployment has fallen by almost 15% over the last year. This is further good news.
'These unemployment figures are one of a series of recent good news stories on the Scottish economy. The CBI report that Scottish firms are more optimistic about business conditions, on average, than elsewhere in the UK. Last week's export data from the Scottish Council Development and Industry/Scottish Enterprise show that the overall performance of manufactured exports from Scotland remains outstanding, with estimated growth of almost 14% to £16.2bn in 1995.
'The Index of Production and Construction, also released last week, shows further healthy levels of growth in industrial output in the third quarter of 1995.