Office for National Statistics reveals employment figures fall slightly in Scotland

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that Scotland's employment rate has fallen slightly, down to just over 74%.

Scotland's employment rate has fallen slightly, down to just over 74% (Photo: John Devlin).

The ONS said that from November 2020 to January 2021, employment rates dropped to 74.3% - down 0.6% compared with the previous quarter (August to October 2020).

This has brought Scotland's employment below the UK rate of 75%.

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The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimated that from November 2020 to January 2021, Scotland's unemployment rate decreased slightly over the quarter by 0.1%, to 4.1%.

Scotland's unemployment rate was below the UK rate of 5.0%.

Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn, said: "For November to January 2021, Scotland's employment rate estimate fell over the quarter to 74.3% and the unemployment rate estimate fell slightly over the quarter to 4.1%.

"Separate HMRC early estimates for February 2021, also published this morning, show there were 2,331,000 pay-rolled employees in Scotland, 65,000 lower than a year ago.

"These figures reflect some of the challenges faced in Scotland's labour market to date, but they do not reflect the full impact of coronavirus or the outlook for employment as the Job Retention Scheme continues to help support jobs.

"It is crucial the UK Government keep this scheme in place for as long as it is needed."

Dr Stuart McIntyre, Head of Research at the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: "The Scottish labour market remains in a state of suspended animation - certainly in comparison to the scale of the economic shock represented by the pandemic - with little change in the headline measures of employment and unemployment over the year to the end of February.

"A key reason for this is the furlough support scheme remaining in place; at the end of January over 360,000 jobs remained on furlough in Scotland.

"There is some evidence that employment is down by more than what is being suggested by headline data. Data from HMRC on payroll employment put the number of jobs in Scotland down nearly 65,000 compared to the same period last year, and this despite the furlough scheme remaining in place.

"No one should misunderstand the scale of the economic challenge that we face."

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