Employment in Scotland has reached its highest level for more than five years, new figures show.
The number of people in work rose by 37,000 between June and August, with the employment total now at 2,548,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday.
There was also a fall of 3,000 in the number of unemployed Scots over the summer period. The decrease took the jobless total to 201,000 between June and August, with the Scottish jobless rate at 7.3 per cent, compared with the average of 7.7 per cent for the whole of the UK.
Unemployment in the UK fell by 18,000 in the June-August period to 2.49 million.
The figures for Scotland were welcomed by finance secretary John Swinney and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, who called them “encouraging”.
However, Labour and union leaders expressed concern after it emerged Scotland’s employment figures included 675,000 part-time workers and 130,000 temporary staff.
Labour’s finance spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: “This isn’t sustainable for our full economic recovery, as people who have an uncertain financial future are less likely to spend money.”
Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith said the increase in employment was “excruciatingly slow and dependent on low-paid and insecure employment”.
The labour market statistics put the employment rate at 72.8 per cent, a rise of 0.9 percentage points, according to the ONS.
Meanwhile, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in Scotland fell by 3,500 from August to 121,800.
Mr Swinney claimed the figures showed Scotland was outperforming the rest of the UK on economic growth ahead of next year’s referendum.
He said: “On figures for employment, unemployment, inactivity and youth employment, Scotland continues to perform better than the UK as a whole, with the employment rate amongst our young people the highest of all UK nations.
“Encouragingly, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance is also at its lowest level since March 2009.”
Youth employment minister Angela Constance said: “With our £88 million business growth and Youth Employment Scotland Fund we will create up to 10,000 new jobs.”
Mr Carmichael insisted Scotland had benefited from overall investment. He said: “As part of the UK, Scotland gains from tax reductions such as the new employment allowance, benefiting 70,000 businesses in Scotland by £100m in total.”
Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said the figures showed “continued optimism” for Scotland’s workforce. However, she added: “We must not become complacent in our mission to revive Scotland’s economy.”