SCOTLAND’S economy has grown for a fourth consecutive month, but the pace of the recovery has started to slow, according to official figures. 

The latest Scottish Government estimates of monthly GDP found the country’s economy was still almost 10 per cent smaller than in February because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The experimental statistics estimated economic output grew by 2.6% in August, markedly slower than the 6.4% increase in GDP seen in July.

Despite four months of increases, Scottish GDP remained 9.4% below that in February.

After the economic crash of 2008/09, Scottish GDP fell 4% in 18 months.

The Scottish Government said the recovery was "fragile" and said the long-term solution was for Scotland to become independent.

The new figures also showed around 60% of lost output has been recovered since the lowest point in April this year.

After two quarters of falling growth January-June, the rolling quarterly growth rate, comparing June-August to March-May, was 5% up. 

The August data showed a mixed picture in terms of sectoral recovery.

The dominant services sector was up 3.3% on July, but 10.3% below its level in February; the Production sector fell by 0.3%, and remains 5.6% below its level in February; and construction sector grew 3.8% in August, but remains 9.4% below its level in February.

The Scottish Government said the figures were provisional and likely to be revised. 

The report said: “When viewed across the six months of March to August, output remains 9.4% below the level in February. 

“At the lowest point in April, GDP is currently estimated to have fallen by 23.7% over two months. 

“The unprecedented scale of this drop can be contrasted to the financial crisis and recession in 2008 and 2009, where GDP decreased by around 4% over the course of 18 months.” 

SNP Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "We are taking every possible step to protect jobs as we work to rebuild our economy – backed by a package of support to businesses that totals over £2.3 billion.

“While it is good news that Scotland’s GDP grew again in August, our economy remains fragile and recovery will take time.

“Given the scale of this challenge, the last thing Scottish businesses need is the UK Government inflicting further uncertainty on the economy with the looming threat of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period.

"Even if a deal can be agreed, there will be severe damage caused to the Scottish economy.

“With trade negotiations ongoing, we remain in the dark about what the trading arrangements will be with the EU in less than three months’ time and it is almost impossible for firms to plan for the future.

“We will continue to do everything we can to mitigate against the consequences of the UK Government’s actions, pursued in the midst of a global pandemic.

"However, as the First Minister has made clear, it is our view that the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country.”

Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “These new figures show that the Scottish and UK economy is still struggling to rebound from the damage that coronavirus has caused.

“As we continue to fight this pandemic, people across Scotland want and expect their two governments to work together to protect jobs.

“Rishi Sunak supported nearly a million Scottish jobs through the furlough scheme and the UK Government has now delivered another £700 million to help save jobs and businesses in Scotland.

“We need to see more ambitious proposals from the SNP Government to help keep jobs in Scotland safe through this crisis.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government is doing everything possible to keep people safe and protect the Scottish economy from the shock of the pandemic.

 “We will continue to support jobs and businesses in Scotland through the difficult months ahead. We have expanded our Job Support Scheme, extended our scheme for self-employed people and provided additional support for business.

“This direct support to people in Scotland is on top of an £7.2 billion in additional funding to the Scottish Government.”