Scottish unemployment fall bucks UK trend

The latest figures are said to be 'encouraging for the Scottish economy'. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The latest figures are said to be 'encouraging for the Scottish economy'. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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SCOTLAND’S jobless total has fallen by 13,000 in a further boost for the economy.

The figures buck the UK-wide trend where unemployment hit 1.85 million between April and June, up 25,000 from the ­previous quarter.

However, rising wages are starting to slow down.

The number of young Scots in work has reached a ten-year high with youth employment growing by 20,000 between April and June this year, reaching 363,000.

The number of unemployed 16-24-year-olds fell by 7,000 to reach 14 per cent – the lowest since April-June 2008.

But the number of Scots in work is down by 11,000, according to the figures for April to June.

Fair work, skills and training secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “These are encouraging signs of an improving ­economic landscape in Scotland, following on from official ­statistics last month showing the economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the first three months of this year.

“Our priority is to maintain that progress and tackle those areas where we need to see ­further improvement. For ­example, there was a slight fall in all-age employment and a small rise in economic inactivity – although we continue to outperform the rest of the UK in these measures.

“We will continue to work with employers and all other ­interested parties to ensure more of our young men and women get in to work and stay in work, in line with our ­ambitions outlined in the Youth Employment Strategy.”

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The Scottish employment rate is now 74.1 per cent, but remains above the UK average of 73.4 per cent. Scotland’s unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent is the same as for the UK as a whole.

Scotland Office minister ­Andrew Dunlop said the ­jobless fall has been accompanied by rising wages – but the rate of ­increase is tailing off.

He said: “This shows we are working to ensure everyone benefits from a growing economy as we build a country based on security and opportunity.

“We will continue to help businesses create jobs and ­support those who want to work hard and get on.

“The introduction of our ­National Living Wage will ­ensure work pays for everyone across the country.”

Business leaders said the ­improving jobs situation backs up their own evidence that ­confidence is rising.

Colin Borland of the ­Federation of Small Businesses in ­Scotland said: “To take ­advantage of this bullishness we need to make it as easy as possible for firms to achieve growth.

“We need to see an extra push to ­ensure more Scottish public ­sector spending delivers for the smallest local Scottish businesses. And we need to redouble our efforts to make sure firms can hire people with the right skills and attitude.”

Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, added: “As business picks up, demand for skilled workers increases and with unemployment at low levels, this makes suitably skilled workers more difficult to find.

“The priority for our governments now must be to ensure a supply of skilled workers for our growing businesses to recruit.”

The unemployment increase across the UK means it is the first time in two years that there have been two consecutive rises in the jobless total.

The Office for National ­Statistics figures showed earnings growth is slowing. Earnings including bonuses rose 2.4 per cent from a year ago, compared with 3.2 per cent in the March to May period.

Excluding bonuses, pay was up 2.8 per cent in the April to June period, unchanged from the previous figure.