Scotland's unemployment total falls by 13,000
THE number of people out of work in Scotland fell by 13,000 in the final three months of last year, according to new figures.
The drop to 216,000 between October and December shows the Scottish unemployment rate stands at 8%, just ahead of the UK average of 7.9%.
Labour market statistics revealed that employment in Scotland increased by 23,000 at the same time, bringing the number of people with jobs to more than 2.4 million.
Despite the increase in the final quarter, employment fell over the year by 2,000.
In January this year, the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseekers' Allowance was 139,700 - an increase of 1,400 over the month, and the fourth monthly increase in a row.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: "The increase in the number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance in January shows the Government has to work hard throughout this Parliament to create the conditions that enable all businesses to thrive and create more sustainable jobs."
The Scottish Government said the country is the only UK nation with rising employment and falling unemployment over the quarter.
Enterprise minister Jim Mather said: "Today's figures present further signs of economic recovery and show the Scottish Government's robust efforts to support jobs, skills and training are making a real difference.
"For three consecutive monthly labour market statistics releases, we have seen falling unemployment and rising employment in Scotland compared to rising unemployment and falling employment across the UK."
Mr Mather said the Scottish budget, passed last week at Holyrood, will support a record 25,000 modern apprenticeships in 2011-12 and provide more training opportunities.
He added: "While today's figures are welcome, Scotland's recovery remains at a crucial stage.
"We must continue to bring unemployment down, and the UK Government is wrong to threaten the positive signs we are seeing by cutting the Scottish budget by some 1.3 billion next year - including the massive 800 million cut to our capital budget."
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