Scotland's unemployment rate dropping, but not back to pre-pandemic levels

The unemployment rate in Scotland has continued to drop, but is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its labour market data on Tuesday, showing Scotland' s unemployment rate between July and September was 4.1%, a drop of 0.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.

However, the unemployment rate remained 0.3 percentage points above the level for December 2019 to February 2020.

The employment rate also rose compared with the previous quarter by 0.6 percentage points to 74.8%, but remains 0.6 points lower than before the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

The number of UK workers on company payrolls surged by 160,000 last month and there was no sign of a jump in redundancies despite the furlough support scheme coming to an end, according to official figures.

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Latest figures from HMRC, however, show an increase in the number of people employed last month compared with the first month of the lockdown.

Some 2.39 million employees were recorded in Scotland in October by the tax agency, a 0.1% rise compared with February 2020.

Despite the end of the furlough scheme in September, the once much-feared jump in redundancies has not come to pass.

Benefit claimants remained substantially higher than before the pandemic, with the number of people claiming Universal Credit for the principal reason of unemployment being 44,000 higher last month than in March last year.

However, this figure dropped by 2,100 from the previous month.

Employment minister Richard Lochhead said: "The Scottish Government continues to do all it can to support employees and employers and is investing more than £1 billion in 2021/22 to create jobs and ensure people have the skills needed to help seize Scotland's potential and deliver a greater, greener, fairer and sustainable economy."

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