The latest jobs and unemployment data for Scotland in February to April should be welcomed. Jobs rose by 18,000 and unemployment - on the preferred ILO measure - fell by 14,000 to 220,000.
However, we must beware reading too much into these statistics.
The data are produced quarterly on a rolling monthly basis. So, today we were given the data for Feb-April. Last month the data showed the situation between January and March. Hence, there are two common months, February and March between the two releases.
If we graph the rolling series over the past year we get the following picture:
What this shows is that there was a large jump/drop in employment/unemployment in the move from Nov 2011-Jan 2012 to Dec 2011-Feb 2012. And that hike has been influencing the last three months releases. But the chart shows that the increase has been falling over the last two releases.
These data are therefore compatible with the view of a weakening economy.