Scotland business

Scottish jobless figures rise by 25,000

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Media captionThe Scottish jobless rate is now higher than the UK's as a whole

Unemployment in Scotland rose by 25,000 to 229,000 in the three months from August to October, according to official figures.

The number of people claiming benefit fell by 500 in November, although the level is up 7,100 on a year ago and the total is 143,000.

The Scottish unemployment rate is now 8.5%, which is higher than the UK average of 8.3%.

Total UK unemployment rose by 128,000 to 2.64 million.

Meanwhile, separate figures showed private sector employment rose year-on-year by 30,300 in Scotland in the third quarter, outweighing a fall of 23,500 in public sector jobs over the same period.

The private sector, including all financial institutions, now accounts for 77.7% of Scottish employment - the highest share since devolution.

The rise in unemployment figures prompted First Minister Alex Salmond to call for an urgent UK-wide summit involving finance ministers from the UK government and three devolved administrations, to agree an immediate programme of jobs creation.

He said: "The UK government's economic policy is in a state of collapse, and the prime minister's policy of isolation in Europe can only make things worse.

"The Office of Budget Responsibility has reported that the UK economy is already contracting in the final quarter of this year, and the coalition must change course."

'Too little too late'

Mr Salmond added: "The announcements in the Autumn Statement were too little, too late - Scotland's capital budget will still be cut by £3bn over the spending period, and over 70% of the Barnett capital consequentials will not be available until after next year, when the problem is now.

"In the face of severe cuts from Westminster, we still have a situation of higher employment in Scotland compared to the UK as a whole, lower economic inactivity, and lower unemployment compared to most of the other nations and regions of the UK.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said there was "no hiding the fact" the figures were disappointing.

He added: "Our main priority as a government is to return this country to sustainable and more balanced growth.

"This is not the time to introduce further uncertainty into our economy but for both the UK and Scottish governments to work together for the benefit of the people who are looking for long-lasting quality jobs."

'Vicious cycle'

Scottish Labour called for an urgent change of economic policy from the Scottish government, claiming the unemployment figures had reached "disaster levels".

Finance spokesman Richard Baker said: "For the last 12 months now the Scottish economy has grown even more slowly than the rest of the UK, and now we see the same happening to jobs.

"Alex Salmond and (Finance Secretary) John Swinney's failure to deliver an effective economic strategy and stalling on investing in infrastructure has pushed Scotland into a vicious cycle of lower investment, fewer jobs and slower growth."

He added: "We need to see far more creative ideas to support businesses taking on graduates."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie described the figures as "shocking".

'Hollow claims'

He said: "Unemployment is rising twice as fast in Scotland compared to the UK.

"Scottish Ministers put out a complacent press release last month saying that they were 'outperforming' the rest of the UK because of their economic approach, that recovery was 'being built' and that their policies were 'bearing fruit'.

"Those claims look hollow today. Their complacency has not helped the economy grow one single point," he added.

The Scottish Conservatives said the latest figures were "deeply alarming".

Finance spokesman Gavin Brown commented: "It is time for the SNP to wake up and start using the considerable powers we have at Holyrood over business tax, college funding, town centres and enterprise.

"If used well they could transform our economy and create hope and opportunity for Scotland."

'Extremely concerning'

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce called the rise in unemployment "extremely concerning".

Chief executive Liz Cameron said: "The high levels of youth unemployment are of course of particular concern, as we cannot afford for a generation of our young people to lose out on the development of their skills, which our country will so desperately need over the coming years.

"With businesses across Scotland battling to see their way through to the general economic recovery, they need the right support from governments north and south of the border to employ more young people and gear up for future success."

The Federation of Small Businesses said practical measures were needed now to help growing businesses take on employees as part of a wider package to stimulate business confidence, alongside moves to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs.

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