Scottish unemployment rises again

job centre office generic Scotland's claimant count fell for the third month in a row

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Unemployment in Scotland has increased for the second time in a row, according to official figures.

The number of people out of work rose by 7,000 to 222,000 over the three months to August.

The Scottish unemployment rate now stands at 8.2%, which is above the average of 7.9% for the whole of the UK.

The claimant count fell by 1,300 from August to a total of 139,900 in September.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that 2,490,000 people were in employment in Scotland.

In September, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) fell for the third month in a row and is now 3,500 lower than in June.

Scotland's youth unemployment rate has increased over the year by 1.3% to 23.7%, although the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming unemployment benefit has fallen by 3,700.

'Cause for concern'

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: "Any increase in Scottish people losing their jobs is disappointing and a cause for concern across both Scotland's governments.

"There are some positive signs, such as the third consecutive monthly fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.

"We will continue to do as much as we can to help people find work through targeted support available at Scotland's JobCentre Plus network."

Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance said: "One young person out of work is one too many.

"This is why we have made a specific commitment to ensure every 16 to 19-year-old has a place in learning or training, as well as delivering 25,000 modern apprenticeships."

She added: "Alongside these opportunities we will also invest an extra £15m to work with businesses to support job opportunities for 10,000 young people, the details of which I hope to announce soon."

'Worrying figures'

Scottish Labour said the SNP government should focus on jobs and not the independence referendum, following the signing of a deal with the UK government this week which will pave the way for a vote in autumn 2014.

Deputy leader Anas Sarwar: "These very worrying unemployment figures should be a reminder to Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon that their first priority has to be jobs, not grandstanding on the referendum.

"In the last three months, 7,000 people in Scotland have lost their jobs while employment in the rest of the UK is going up - this SNP government has to start taking responsibility for that.

"The huge spike in youth unemployment, which takes it back over the 100,000 mark, and the latest fall in GDP, makes a mockery of the SNP's claims that they are focused on jobs and growth."

'Extremely unwelcome'

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce described the rise in unemployment as "extremely unwelcome and disappointing news".

Chief executive Liz Cameron said: "We know from speaking with our members that business confidence was low over the summer months and that cost pressures are affecting the capacity of businesses to expand and create jobs.

"In order to address this we need to see business costs reduced and the Scottish government could assist here by imposing a freeze on business rates for 2013/14, saving Scottish businesses £163m that could be invested in growth and creating employment opportunities."

She added: "Government at a UK level also needs to examine ways of stimulating demand in the economy, and our demand from the chancellor's autumn statement is that it signals a firm commitment by government to boost capital spending across the economy, which would impact nationwide and provide a well-timed boost to business."

Support systems

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland said it was the nation's small businesses which would shorten the dole queues.

Head of external affairs Colin Borland commented: "Nearly nine out of every 10 unemployed people who get into private sector work do so either by becoming self employed or getting a job in a small or medium sized business.

"Unless governments at Westminster and Holyrood put the tax and enterprise support systems squarely behind realising small businesses' employment potential, job prospects will remain bleak."

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