Scottish employment reaches new record high
Employment in Scotland has reached a new record high, according to official figures.
The number of people in work increased by 9,000 between April and June, to stand at 2,594,000.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed unemployment in Scotland fell by 2,000, to 176,000, over the same period. The UK total fell by 132,000 to 2.08 million.
The Scottish jobless rate now matches the overall UK figure of 6.4%.
The employment rate north of the border is 73.5%, which is higher than the UK rate of 73%.
The number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), fell by 3,100 between June and July to 92,900. The figure is 35,500 lower than a year ago.
Female employment in Scotland is also at its highest level on record, at 1.25 million - an increase of 36,000 over the year.
Scotland's Youth and Women's Employment Secretary, Angela Constance, said: "We know that Scotland's economy has returned to pre-recession levels and these figures show that our recovery is continuing to gain momentum, with unemployment down and employment at its highest level ever.
"I am pleased to see that youth employment has increased and that fewer young people are now unemployed in Scotland compared to a year ago.
"It is so important that our young people have the chance to get a foothold in the labour market and we want to see this figure continue to decrease."
She added: "Female employment continues to increase and now sits at the highest level since records began and the female unemployment rate is at its lowest since May-July 2009.
"These figures show that Scotland has the economic potential to be an independent country."
The UK government's Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, also welcomed the latest data.
He said: "Today's figures show we have a new record high in overall employment.
"Over the last 12 months Scottish employment has increased by 63,000 and unemployment has fallen by 21,000.
"This shows that working together as part of the UK with its larger market, stronger and growing economy and stable currency is creating more jobs and better opportunities for Scotland.
"It is also good to see the number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance continues to fall. It is now at its lowest level since October 2008 and is 35,500 lower than one year ago."
'Growing labour market'
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the new figures supported its own recent findings, which pointed to strong recruitment trends and a move towards full-time employment.
Chief executive Liz Cameron said: "The reason why both employment and economic inactivity are growing, but remaining at the same overall rates, is because Scotland has a growing labour market and therefore we need our businesses to be able to grow and provide even more job opportunities in the future.
"The economic recovery is now well under way and most indicators are positive but, with wage growth still sluggish, the economy needs more than just consumer demand to drive it forwards.
"That is why we still need measures from government that will promote the business investment that is necessary to drive sustainable growth and new employment, coupled with a fresh approach to skills provision."
Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith said: "Today's figures confirm that the steady, if far from spectacular, recovery in the Scottish labour market continued during the three months to June.
"The unemployment rate fell very slightly while the small increase in the employment level wasn't sufficient to improve the rate.
"The unprecedented collapse in real wages at UK level worsened over this period with the data confirming a nominal - before adjusting for inflation - fall.
"This, together with stubbornly high youth unemployment, high underemployment and the ongoing rise in insecure forms of work, means there is no room whatsoever for complacency at this time."
Statistics released on Wednesday from the 2011 Census showed there were 2.5 million people between the ages of 16 and 74 in work in Scotland at the time the count was undertaken.
Just over a quarter (706,000) had part-time jobs, with young people and women most likely to be employed for less than 30 hours a week.
A total of 88% (2.2 million) were employees, 9% (219,000) were self-employed without employees and 3% (83,000) were self-employed with staff.
The largest categories of employment were Health and Social Work and Retail, each employing about 377,000, or 15% of the workforce.
A total of 90% (145,000) of workers in the Construction category were male.
In contrast, 80% (303,000) of people who worked in Health and Social Work were female.
The figures, published by the Registrar General for Scotland, also showed 69% of people travelled to work by car.