Number of Scots out of work drops by 3,000

UNEMPLOYMENT in Scotland has fallen again, with the highest annual rise in the number of people in work for nearly seven years, newly released figures show.

Picture: Ian Rutherford

The number of Scots out of work fell by 3,000 to 195,000 in the period between October and December 2013, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Scotland’s employment increased by 9,000 over the quarter and was up by 92,000 on the same period in 2012, with more than 2.5 million now in work.

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Unemployment also fell across the UK by 125,000 to 2.34 million in the three months to December, according to the latest estimates.

The unemployment rate in Scotland of 7.1 per cent was slightly below the rate of 7.2 per cent for the UK as a whole, the ONS said.

There was also a sharp rise in the number of women in work in Scotland with an increase of 72,000 over the year and female employment reaching its highest-ever total at 1,243,000.

Scottish ministers said a 92,000 increase in employment in Scotland over the last 12 months was the largest annual increase in nearly seven years.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the increase was “a demonstration of this government’s commitment to creating jobs and boosting the economy”.

However, the SNP leader claimed that the Scottish Government’s ability to create jobs was being held back by cuts from Westminster.

Mr Salmond said: “Delivering the largest annual increase in employment levels in nearly seven years is a demonstration of this government’s commitment to creating jobs and boosting the economy.

“While we are making good progress, we continue to do so constrained by a Westminster government’s pursuit of austerity.”

He added: “We can go much further, as we have set out in our blueprint for independence, Scotland’s Future. Only with the full fiscal and economic powers of independence can we take a different approach, focused on maintaining and building sustainable economic growth, do more to strengthen our economy and create jobs.”

The ONS figures said the number of Scots not working and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance also fell by 2,900 between December and January, to 110,400. This was the 15th month in a row that the number of people claiming this benefit has fallen, down 27,000 since the first month of 2013.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across the UK fell by 27,600 in January to 1.22 million, which was also its 15th consecutive monthly drop.

Unemployment rates remain a key focus for the Bank of England, but it is no longer linked to Governor Mark Carney’s pledge to keep interest rates at record lows.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael insisted Scotland was benefiting from being part of the UK and that the fall in the jobless rate boosted the economic case against independence.

He said: “Together with the Bank of England revising up its forecast for GDP growth in 2014, it is clear that being part of a large UK single market and an influential EU member benefits Scotland. Our economy is growing because we are part of the UK.”

Mobile phone firm to bring 1,000 jobs back to UK from overseas

Communications giant EE is to create 1,000 new jobs over the next two years and triple the size of its apprenticeship scheme.

The company announced it was bringing customer service jobs to the UK from overseas centres, with plans for 250 posts in Northern Ireland.

The apprenticeship programme will rise to 1,300 by the end of next year.

EE chief executive Olaf Swantee said: “I’m very proud that EE is leading the UK telecoms industry, delivering not only the first but the biggest and fastest 4G network for the country.

“Within 18 months I want to be able to say that EE has done for customer service in the UK what it has done for networks. A major step towards this is returning 1,000 customer service jobs to the UK, where performance has been shown to exceed that of overseas contact centres.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s great news that EE is bringing over 1,000 jobs back to the UK. As part of our long-term economic plan, I believe we can become the world’s leading reshoring nation and provide new opportunities for hard-working people.”