SCOTLAND’S jobless total has risen, with the latest figures showing unemployment has increased by 18,000 in three months.
There were 170,000 people out of work, including those not eligible for benefits, in the period from June to August – with 6.1 per cent of the workforce not having a job.
The rise in the jobless total in Scotland is in stark contrast with the UK as a whole, where unemployment fell to a seven-year low while a record number of people are in work. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed across the UK the number of people out of work dropped by 79,000 to 1.7 million for the same period – the lowest figure since summer 2008, giving a jobless rate of 5.4 per cent.
As well as the rise in unemployment north of the Border, there has also been a decrease in the number of Scots who are in work.
Employment in Scotland stood at 2,610,000 for the period June to August – a drop of 6,000 on the previous six months. As a result of that, the employment rate has fallen to 73.7 per cent – marginally ahead of the UK as a whole where the rate stands at 73.6 per cent.
The number of Scots who are out of work and claiming jobseeker’s allowance has also risen, up by 500 from August to stand at 71,000 in September.
The rise in unemployment prompted opposition politicians to accuse the SNP of focusing on independence, instead of governing Scotland.
Labour public services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “These figures make grim reading for Scotland, and speak to an SNP government with the wrong priorities.
“The increase in unemployment in the north east confirms that the SNP government sat on their hands whilst we saw an oil jobs crisis that saw thousands of jobs lost. We are seeing fewer jobs under this SNP government than in 2008, and the gap is growing.”
Tory MSP Alex Johnstone claimed Scotland was now “dangerously lagging behind the rest of the UK” on the jobs front.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “While the SNP were busy plotting a second referendum, 18,000 more Scots found themselves out of work.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “While Scotland has now seen three years of continuous economic growth, today’s figures show that there remain serious challenges to economic recovery.”