UNEMPLOYMENT has risen in Scotland again, while falling across the rest of the UK, figures published yesterday showed.
Scotland’s jobless total increased by 11,000 over the summer and is seen as further evidence of the divergence between the Scottish and UK economies as the impact of the oil price crash continues to take its toll.
There are now about 166,000 Scots out of work, according to yesterday’s official statistics.
The Scottish unemployment rate is 6 per cent, compared with 5.3 per cent for the whole of the UK.
Last night Labour’s public services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Yet again we are seeing Scotland lag behind the rest of the UK on unemployment figures.
“The SNP want to be judged on their record – on creating jobs and protecting jobs. It is woeful. We are seeing fewer jobs under this SNP government than before the financial crisis in 2008.”
The Scottish and UK economies have taken markedly different routes in recent months after years of broadly similar performance. Recent output figures showed that growth north of the Border is lagging behind the UK.
A recent report by the Fraser of Allander Institute revised its growth predictions for Scotland down from 2.5 per cent to below 2 per cent.
The employment picture in Scotland has been badly hit by the ongoing slump in global oil prices which have halved over the course of the past year. It has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs in the North Sea and its extensive supply chain as energy giants cut back on staff numbers to save costs.
There are even fears that were it not for Scottish Government funding to boost the construction sector through major projects like the new Forth crossing and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, Scotland could be tipped back into recession.
Women have been worst hit by the rise in the jobless total, with 9,000 more finding themselves out of work between July and September.
Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said: “The labour market performance in Scotland is mixed with the number of people in employment at historically high levels but unemployment starting to move upwards.
“We will monitor the gap with the UK unemployment rate while continuing to pursue our policies for a low tax and higher wage economy that will benefit Scottish workers.”
Unemployment across the UK fell by about 103,000 and now sits at about 1.75 million. The number of people in work in Scotland is continuing to rise. Employment increased by 3,000 over the three months from July to September. The number of those in employment in Scotland stands at 2.6 million.
The number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance was 68,800 in October in Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training, Roseanna Cunningham, focussed on the increase in employment.
She said: “Although more work is required to ensure more young people find employment, it is good to know that 34,000 more people aged between 16 and 24 have found work since last year and that Scotland continues to perform better than the UK as a whole on this crucial indicator.”
But Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the SNP government could not escape responsibility for rising unemployment, accusing ministers of “spending too long fighting their constitutional battles and not enough effort on a decent economic plan for jobs”.
Mr Rennie said: “The SNP cannot run away from the fact that unemployment in Scotland is rising when it is falling in the rest of the UK.”
Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, described the latest figures as “another disappointing set of statistics”.