The number of jobless Scots is double those classed as unemployed with about one in ten out of work, new figures produced by the Scottish Parliament have shown.
The figures reveal that 322,000 working age Scots do not have a job – far higher than the 132,000 set out in official unemployment statistics.
Labour said the figure revels the “real unemployment” picture in Scotland because it includes those who are “economically inactive” and not seeking work, perhaps having given up on the jobs market. Business leader last night said the figures marked a “huge societal concern.”
But the findings were rejected by the Scottish Government, which says the jobless figure includes many people who are disabled or long-term sick and unable to work. It will also cover people who have retired early.
Analysis from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has revealed that the total number of Scots without a job between 2015 and 2016 stood at 9.4 per cent of working age adults 322,000. This compares with the official unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent.
Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Scotland has a hidden jobs crisis, with the figure for real unemployment standing at 322,000.
“No matter how much the SNP government tries to spin the official statistics the picture on high streets and in communities across Scotland is clear – the government is not doing enough to create high quality, well paid jobs.
“Holyrood has the powers to radically reshape our economy but the SNP would rather divide Scotland with another unwanted independence referendum.
“Labour has been calling for months for a review of economic inactivity in Scotland – these figures show why this is so important.”
It comes after figures this week showed Scotland’s economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the final three months of 2016 and is now on the verge of recession.
But Scottish Government employment minister Jamie Hepburn accused labour of “misleading” Scots over the figures.
He said: “The most common reason for being economically inactive is having a long-term illness or disability. If Labour are seriously suggesting that people in those circumstances should be forced to look for work, then they really have lost the plot.
“Despite economic challenges, Scotland’s labour market remains resilient with unemployment rates and levels falling and Scotland’s youth unemployment rate the second lowest in the EU.
“Clearly the biggest threat to Scotland’s labour market is a hard Brexit, which threatens to cost our economy around £11 billion a year from 2030, and cost the country 80,000 jobs over a decade.”
The respected Fraser of Allander Institute warned recently that inactivity rates have been rising in Scotland over the past 18 months after a period of stability. Women account for most of the rise.
The official job figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of unemployment, which includes people who are actively seeking work.