Unemployment rate in Scotland drops below UK average

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The unemployment rate in Scotland has dropped below the rest of the UK, official statistics published today have revealed.

Holyrood ministers warned Brexit uncertainty could be impacting on employment north of the Border, but Scottish secretary Alister Jack said the UK Government was working “flat out to ensure that Scotland and every part of the UK grows and prospers”.

More than 59 per centof the working age population in Scotland were reported by the ONS to have been in work as of July this year. Picture: PA

More than 59 per centof the working age population in Scotland were reported by the ONS to have been in work as of July this year. Picture: PA

A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the number of people out of work in Scotland has fallen to 102,000 between August and October, down from 111,000 in the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate in Scotland in October was recorded as 3.7 per cent among people aged between 16 and 64, falling from four per cent in the three months before. The UK rate was 3.8 per cent for the same period.

Scotland last outstripped the UK earlier this year, when the ONS recorded a 3.1 per cent rate north of the border between February and April, before it spiked to four per cent.

READ MORE: Number of long-term empty properties in Scotland rises

UK unemployment remained largely stagnant when compared to the quarter before, with a small decrease of 0.07 per cent and a drop of almost three per cent compared to last year.

Compared to the same period last year, the rate of people out of work has remained the same, despite rising by around 2,000. Joblessness among young people aged 16 and 17 dropped 7.9 per cent based on the same period last year, falling to 15.8 per cent.

The unemployment rate for women in Scotland also fell below the UK average, to 3.4 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent - a British record for women in work.

The number of of people in work in Scotland rose slightly between July 2018 and June of this year - the most recent available data - by 0.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, to just over 2.6 million.

More than 59 per cent of the working age population in Scotland were reported by the ONS to have been in work, a slight drop from the year before.

Men in the workplace dropped by 11,012, while working women rose by nearly 19,000 - an increase of 1.5 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said the Scottish labour market was resilient despite uncertainty raised by Brexit.

“These statistics indicate that Brexit may be negatively impacting employment in Scotland," he said. “However, there are signs of resilience in our labour market and positive results for those out of work. Scotland’s unemployment rate fell slightly over the year and is now just below the UK rate overall.

“The Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to stimulate growth, jobs and investment through the policies set out in our Economic Action Plan and Prepare for Brexit campaign. These policies are designed to help build economic resilience by offering grants and advice to support businesses to face the challenges ahead."

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “It is encouraging that Scotland’s unemployment figures have fallen slightly, with the overall UK rate now at its lowest since 1974. However, I remain concerned that employment has also fallen in Scotland.

“The UK Government will work flat out to ensure that Scotland and every part of the UK grows and prospers. Getting Brexit done by January 31st will bring new opportunities, including helping Scottish businesses, farmers and fishermen unleash their full potential.

“The UK Government has invested more than £1.4 billion in city and growth deals – with more to come – these projects will bring transformation and regeneration to our communities, helping to create tens of thousands of jobs.

“I urge the Scottish Government to use their extensive powers to improve the lives of people across Scotland rather than stoking grievance and conflict by trying to railroad through another independence referendum.”