Scottish jobless-rate gap with UK widens as total rises by 7,000 in 3 months
UNEMPLOYMENT has risen in Scotland by 7,000 to 222,000, with the jobless rate north of the Border continuing to outstrip that for the UK as a whole, official figures revealed today.
• 2,490,000 people in employment in Scotland whilst claimant count fell to 139,900
• Scottish unemployment rate stands at 8.2 per cent, higher than the UK average of 7.9 per cent
• Double dip recession blamed for increase in figures
Scotland’s jobless total for the quarter from June to August contrasted with an improving situation in the UK as a whole, where unemployment fell by 50,000 over the same period to 2.53 million, the lowest level since the spring.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures also showed that the Scottish unemployment rate of 8.2 per cent remains higher than the 7.9 per cent rate for the UK as a whole.
Over the year, the youth unemployment rate in Scotland
increased by 1.3 percentage points to 23.7 per cent. Youth unemployment for the 12-month period July 2011-June 2012 was 21.4 per cent in Scotland and 21.3 per cent in the UK.
In total, there were 81,000 unemployed 18-24-year-olds between June and August, a 10,000 increase on the previous quarter.
The jobless data were published on the same day as the ONS released Gross domestic product (GDP) figures showing the recession in Scotland was deepening.
The gloomy sets of figures led to the Scottish Government claiming that the poor economic performance added to their argument for independence.
Their Labour opponents said the SNP should make jobs their first priority, instead of “grandstanding” on the referendum.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In the week of the ‘Edinburgh Agreement’, we could not have a clearer example of why Scotland needs the full powers of independence.”
She criticised the UK government’s “self-defeating” programme of austerity measures and insisted: “Today’s figures show once again that Scotland
is suffering under the UK government’s do-nothing economic policy.”
Ms Sturgeon argued that the SNP administration was “doing everything it can to stimulate Scotland’s economy and protect families, businesses and front line services”.
But Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, said: “These very worrying unemployment figures should be a reminder to Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon that their first priority has to be jobs, not grandstanding on the referendum.”
GDP, a broad measurement of the country’s economic performance, fell by 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of this year. While revised figures showed that GDP shrank by 0.2 per cent in the first three months.
The electricity and gas sector suffered a fall of 15.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2012 – making it the largest contributor to the overall fall in GDP.
The manufacturing sector also shrank by 2.2 per cent over the same period, while the distribution, hotels and catering industry contracted by 1.5 per cent. Economists put Scotland’s relatively weaker growth down to poorer performances in construction (minus 10 per cent in the past year, compared with minus 3.2 per cent in the UK) and public services, which had declined by minus 0.3 per cent versus growth of 1.5 per cent in the UK.
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