Scottish unemployment falls again
Unemployment in Scotland fell by 14,000 to 207,000 between September and November, according to the latest official figures.
The number of people in jobs also dropped by 24,000 over the three-month period.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the Scottish jobless rate standing at 7.8%, above the UK average of 7.7%.
The number of people in employment in Scotland now stands at 2,466,000.
The latest fall in the number of jobless follows a drop of 19,000 recorded in last month's official figures.
The claimant count, based on the number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), fell by 1,400 in November to 137,500 in December.
The figure is down by 4,400 on December 2011.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: "It is encouraging to see unemployment falling by 14,000 in Scotland over the last three months and 4,400 fewer people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance compared to last year.
"There is no room for complacency as we get to grips with the wider challenges.
"The UK government will continue working hard to get more people back into work and keep its focus on maintaining a stable and growing economy."
Finance Secretary John Swinney said the "strong performance" in youth unemployment was particularly welcome.
"We have lower youth unemployment, higher youth employment and lower youth inactivity than the UK," he said.
"What's more, this month's release sees the largest annual drop in the youth unemployment rate since the data series began in 2006.
"However, we must continue to work to boost employment and the Scottish government is taking direct action by investing in our infrastructure and maintaining the most competitive business environment anywhere in the UK."
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce welcomed the reduction in unemployment in the run-up to Christmas but warned there were "underlying issues" which required action by governments north and south of the border to stimulate the economy.
Chief executive Liz Cameron said: "The figures show that despite the fall in unemployment, the number of people in work actually fell over the same period, whilst over the year as a whole, employment only increased by 1,000 overall.
"This is also against the background of this week's report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which revealed that unemployment among Scots under the age of 25 has doubled to 90,000 over the past five years."
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said the fall in employment had exceeded the drop in unemployment for the second month in a row.
General secretary Grahame Smith said: "Quite simply it is no cause for celebration if people are leaving the labour force altogether rather than looking actively for work.
"These statistics show a very weak labour market which continues to be characterised by significant falls in full-time permanent positions, rising underemployment and worrying increases in inactivity."
He added: "The fall in youth unemployment over the year is encouraging, although the rate has hardly shifted.
"The rise in very long-term unemployment across all ages confirms the STUC's consistently expressed fears that the errors of past recessions are being repeated."