Scottish unemployment falls to lowest rate in UK at 3.8%

Scotland's unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8%, the lowest of the UK nations, official figures show.

The latest unemployment figures have fallen in Scotland. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The latest unemployment figures have fallen in Scotland. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The jobless rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in the period May to July, down from 4% in the previous three months and 4.7% in the same period last year.

In the latest quarter the overall UK unemployment rate was 4.3%, with England 4.4%, Wales 4.3% and Northern Ireland 5.3%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures show that for all those aged 16 and over, unemployment fell by 4,000 to 106,000 - while the number of people in work increased by 49,000.

For those aged between 16 and 64, unemployment fell 7,000 to 102,000, with the number in work up 60,000 and the employment rate hitting a new high of 75.8%.

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “These are the latest encouraging figures for Scotland’s economy and labour market - employment has never been higher and unemployment has never been lower.

“There are now 109,000 more people in employment compared to the pre-recession peak and Scotland now has the highest employment rate in the UK.

“Our unemployment rate remains a success story, showing that the labour market remains resilient and robust.

“With the most recent GDP figures showing the Scottish economy grew nearly four times that of the UK in the first quarter of this year, today’s labour market figures are further proof that the fundamentals of Scotland’s economy remain strong, despite the challenges posed by Brexit.”

UK Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “It is very encouraging that Scotland’s employment has reached a record high and that unemployment remains at a historic low. More people in work means more money in people’s pockets and that’s good news.

“However, we cannot afford to be complacent. With Scotland’s overall economic performance continuing to lag behind that of the UK, it is imperative that our two governments work together.

“I also urge the Scottish Government to use their extensive powers to boost Scotland’s prosperity.”

The figures were welcomed by Stuart Mackinnon, external affairs manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland, who said: “Low unemployment is great for Scotland and good for firms that serve our local communities.

“While we know that some firms are concerned about skills and labour shortages, that shouldn’t detract from what is good news for the country.”

But Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, warned the positive news “should not be allowed to distract from the difficult conversations we need to have about our labour market”.

He said: “Real wages are consistently down, falling by 0.4% this quarter, and households across the country are feeling the pinch.

“Both the UK and Scottish Governments need to focus on putting money back in the pocket of workers, and the wider picture for the economy looks bleak if we continue downwards in this low pay, low growth, high debt economy.”