Last week the latest Scottish jobs and unemployment data were published and somewhat lost amidst the media coverage of the Budget.
These labour market numbers were clearly better than they have been for some time. During the quarter to Nov-Jan 2013 employment rose by 19,000, unemployment fell by 4,000 and the numbers inactive also fell, by 11,000. The 16 plus activity rate rose slightly from 62.3% to 62.6%, the unemployment rate fell from 7.6% to 7.4%, and the inactivity rate fell from 37.7% to 37.4%.
All good news.
Moreover, given the fall in the numbers inactive my estimate of 'real' unemployment also dropped relative to the measured number and rate of unemployment - see chart
Clearly, one swallow doesn't make a summer.
The estimate of real unemployment is still 63,000 higher than the ILO unemployment measure for Scotland; that is 2.2% points higher than the official rate of 7.4%.
The jobs numbers also continue to look weak when compared to the pre-recession figures as this chart shows
After nearly 5 years employment remains 68,000 below the pre-recession peak, a short-fall of -2.7%.
Added to this, with the working population rising, the ratio of employment to working population still looks like an economy in recession:
One would like to hope that we are beginning to see the start of a more sustained recovery in the labour market in Scotland. But several more quarters of positive data are required before we can conclude that hope has finally triumphed over experience.