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Central Highlands 'Scotland's top economic performer'

19 July 11 00:52
High Street, Inverness

The north of Scotland has had one of the best economic performances of any region of Britain in recent years, according to Bank of Scotland research.

It indicated the central Highlands grew rapidly in the decade leading up to the recession.

Between 1998 and 2008, the value of economic activity per person in the area increased by 86% - from £9,028 to £16,837.

The figures were based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

The local area of Inverness & Nairn and Moray, Badenoch & Strathspey recorded the second highest rise in economic activity per person in the UK after London's East End.

Two other Scottish areas - North Lanarkshire and Caithness & Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty - also saw big increases in economic activity between 1998 and 2008.

In a separate calculation, Aberdeen - along with Inverness & Nairn and Moray, Badenoch & Strathspey - saw the smallest drop in economic activity in Scotland over the past three years in terms of claimant count rates.

The pair recorded an increase of 1.1% in claimant count rates, closely followed by the Western Isles (1.2%).

In contrast, North Lanarkshire and Falkirk were among areas with the biggest falls in economic activity since 2008, as measured by claimant count rates.

The Bank of Scotland report also found areas worst affected by the recession had a higher dependence on production-based industries.

On average, such industries accounted for 21% of economic activity (21%) in the 10 local areas with the biggest contractions in activity in Scotland since 2008.

However, a notable exception was Aberdeen, where production-based industries accounted for 24% of total economic activity.

The report said the significant contribution of the oil sector to the Aberdeen economy had helped to support the area.

Suren Thiru, Bank of Scotland economist, said: "It is encouraging that many of the areas with the biggest increases in economic activity across the UK over the decade to 2008 are in Scotland.

"Since 2008, all areas of Scotland - as in the rest of the UK - have been adversely affected by the economic downturn.

"Those living in parts of the country that are more dependent on production-based industries, such as manufacturing, have generally been hit hardest.

"Aberdeen is a clear exception due to the differing fortunes of the oil sector."

She added: "Looking forward, the current strain on economic activity in many of the locations worst affected by the recession may ease somewhat over the next few years as the economy rebalances towards a greater reliance on investment and exports."

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