Scotland’s jobless total soars by 19,000

THE number of Scots out of work has soared by 19,000 prompting calls for the new UK government and SNP regime at Holyrood to work together to boost growth.

Unemployment rates in Scotland have risen, according to new figures. Picture: Ian Rutherford

It means the jobless rate north of the Border stands at 6 per cent – well above the UK total of 5.5 per cent – numbers reaching 168,000. The number of Scots in work is down by 3,000, the figures for January to March reveal, and stands at 2.62 million.

The picture south of the Border is more encouraging, with UK unemployment down 35,000, while the number of people in work has increased to 31.1 million. Average pay for employees also rose by 2.2 per cent.

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Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the latest figures for Scotland are “disappointing”.

She added: “With the new UK government in place, businesses will need a clear understanding of the future decision-making landscape in Scotland.

“Co-operation between the Scottish and UK governments has never been more important and we must be clear that they are working together to support our businesses to grow, win contracts and to create more jobs.”

The Scots employment rate increased over the quarter at 74.5 per cent and stands above the UK average of 73.5 per cent. And despite the big increase in unemployment over the quarter, it fell by 11,000 over the year.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “The figures are a stark reminder of the difficult economic situation we have come through and the work which remains to ensure our economic recovery works for everybody and every part of our country.”

He added: “The UK and Scottish governments agree job creation is absolutely crucial and I hope we can work together on this issue.”

The figures also show the lowest youth unemployment level since the same period in 2008, down 5.1 per cent over the year.

Scottish Government cabinet secretary for fair work Roseanna Cunningham said: “While there has been a slight increase in unemployment this quarter, this will be accounted for in part by falling levels of economic inactivity, which is at an all-time low, as people join the labour market and start looking for work.”

The improving employment picture across the UK has been welcomed by new Conservative work and pensions minister Priti Patel, who said it was a ­testament to the party’s “long term economic plan”.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said the British economy had become “an incredible job-creating machine”.

“There are also more convincing signs than ever before that this extra demand for labour is causing the market to tighten, pushing up regular pay growth to 2.2 per cent,” he said.