The number of Scottish women in work has reached a record high, while the country’s dole queue has shrunk to an eight-year low, official figures have shown.
There are now 1.244 million women in work, up 35,000 on last year and the highest since records began in 1992.
The female employment rate is 69.8 per cent, compared to the UK figure of 67.9 per cent.
But concerns remain over tens of thousands of youngsters who cannot find a job.
At 6.6 per cent, the Scots unemployment rate is level with the UK as a whole, which is also falling. The number of Scots in work increased by 16,000 between February and April to reach a total of 2.58m.
Unemployment fell by 7,000 over the period to 183,000.
The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for women’s employment, Angela Constance, said: “These figures underline the strong and continued growth in the Scottish economy.
“Scotland continues to outperform the UK across employment and inactivity rates.”
She added: “Female employment, in particular, has increased markedly to reach its highest levels since comparable records began in 1992.”
The number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) fell by 2,300 between April and May. That figure is down by 33,600 on a year ago and at its lowest level since December 2008. Across the UK, the number of people out of work fell by 161,000 to 2.16 million, bringing the unemployment rate down to 6.6 per cent.
The number of people in work rose by a record 345,000, to 30.5 million, most of whom are in full-time employment.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael also welcomed the figures. He said: “Working together as part of the UK creates better opportunities, more secure jobs and record high levels of employment in Scotland. I am delighted there are a record number of women in employment in Scotland.”
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the fall in unemployment suggests increased confidence in a strengthening economy. She said: “All of this is good news but as the appetite of business for skilled workers grows, we must also ensure that the supply of skills matches emerging demand.
“Getting the balance right between vocational and academic training, effective and accurate careers guidance and early involvement by businesses in schools are essential if we are to tackle skills shortages and create more job opportunities.”
But Labour’s Iain Gray said more must be done to help tens of thousands of youngsters who are out of work.
He said: “Concerns remain about how many of the new jobs created are insecure, part-time, zero-hours contracts or pay below the minimum wage. What is more, increases in employment rates have been almost entirely driven by the over-50s, with fewer 16 to 24-year-olds in jobs.”