THE number of people out of work in Scotland is continuing to rise, with the jobless total increasing by 4,000 to 218,000, official figures today showed.
• Scotland’s jobless total now stands at 218,000
• Unemployment rate of 8.1% - 0.3% higher than UK
• UK jobless total falls to 2.5 million
• Youth unemployment up by 10,000
The Scottish unemployment rate is 8.1 per cent, which is above the average of 7.8 per cent for the whole of the UK, according to the figures for July to September this year. It follows a rise of 7,000 in the previous figures for June to August.
The jobless total across the UK fell by 49,000 to 2.5 million, the latest figures today showed.
The number of people in work in Scotland has gone down by 27,000 and now stands at 2,472,000, the statistics show.
Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said: “It is a cause for obvious concern that the latest Scottish figures show another increase in unemployment while it is falling in the rest of the UK. The fact the Scottish unemployment rate is also higher than the rest of the country shows why Scotland’s two governments need to work together for the benefit of Scotland.”
“Today’s figures are a reminder we must redouble our efforts to rebalance the economy and get people back into sustainable jobs. Each one of these statistics represents a person or a family affected by serious economic conditions across the globe and we must do all we can to help them.”
He said that the UK Government has taken “decisive steps” to stabilise the economy, insisting that the UK is a “safe haven” in maintaining market confidence.
First Minister Alex Salmond said the figures underline the need for Chancellor George Osborne to get his economic strategy right.
“As we approach the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, today’s labour market figures show it is becoming ever more critical for George Osborne to take meaningful action to bring jobs and growth to the UK economy,” he said.
“The biggest danger to the economy is the complacency of George Osborne.
“He should remember that the positive effect of the Olympics on employment will only last a few months, whilst the impact of the decisions he makes in this forthcoming Autumn Statement will last for years.
“It is time the Chancellor faced the reality that as a result of his decisions the UK’s economy is flat-lining – as shown by the fact that the claimant count remains unchanged over the past year across the UK as a whole and forecasts for the economy continue to be revised down. It would be a tragedy for Scotland, and for the UK as a whole, if the positive impact of the Olympics is used to justify continued inaction by the UK Government.”
Youth unemployment has risen sharply over last quarter in Scotland, increasing by 10,000 among 16-24 year-olds, today’s figures show.
Business leaders called on the SNP Government and the UK Coalition to “share responsibility” for Scotland’s growing jobless total.
Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron called on Chancellor George Osborne to address growth in his forthcoming Autumn statement by boosting capital investment.
She also called on the SNP Government to freeze business rates and warned that Holyrood’s schemes to tackle youth unemployment were a “sticking plaster.”
“A series of initiatives is no substitute for a consistently proactive focus on ensuring Scotland’s businesses are supported and enabled to grow the economy and create jobs,” Ms Cameron added.
CBI Scotland Senior Policy Executive, Lauren Paterson, said the figures made “grim reading.”
She added: “Businesses are still creating jobs and only continuing private sector growth can help us out of the current tumult. With jobs falling in the public sector, it’s vital that government at all levels does everything it can to support businesses to grow and create jobs.”
Labour finance spokesman Ken Macintosh accused the First Minister of “hiding behind this bungling Tory Government”.
“Scottish unemployment is continuing to increase while the rest of the UK manages a small recovery,” he said.
“This is the third month in a row and Alex Salmond is running out of excuses. George Osborne blames it on snow and the royal wedding, Alex Salmond on the Olympics – they are two peas in a pod.”
Tory finance spokesman Gavin Brown MSP added: “When the figures move in the right direction, the SNP is happy to take all the credit, but now we see Scotland performing badly while the rest of the UK moves in the right direction.”
He added: ““The SNP has more than enough powers to make a difference, but unfortunately the only ones it is opting to use are punishing the sector in the form of retail cash grabs and hiking tax on empty commercial properties.”
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the figures were bad news for thousands of Scottish families.
He added: “People will want to hear from the SNP why unemployment in Scotland is worsening compared to the rest of the UK this autumn. They had promised us that they had a better economic plan that this.”