Scotland business

Unemployment down 14,000 in Scotland

A cyclist passes the entrance to a job centre in east London Image copyright Getty Images

Unemployment in Scotland fell by 14,000 between July and September, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the rate now stood at 4.7% - just below the figure of 4.8% for the whole of the UK.

The number of jobless people in Scotland stands at 129,000.

However, the number of people in work north of the border also fell by 25,000 over the same period to stand at 2,604,000.

The employment rate was 73.6% - below the UK average of 74.5%.

Across the UK, unemployment fell by 37,000 to 1.6 million.

In September, the number of people in Scotland recorded as claiming Jobseeker's Allowance was 54,000.

'Challenging conditions'

The Scottish government said there were 40,000 more people in employment now than at the pre-recession peak of 2008.

Ministers also claimed that Scotland continued to outperform the UK in terms of both female and youth employment and unemployment.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "While these are hugely encouraging signs it is important that given the challenging economic conditions we face, we continue our efforts to support growth, to invest and to boost employment, with a £500m package of financial support for private sector business investment as well as £100m of accelerated capital spending in this financial year.

"It is clear that the result of the EU referendum has created uncertainty and undermined economic progress, which is why we are determined to pursue every avenue to secure Scotland's continued place in the EU and the stability, jobs and investment that come from being part of the world's biggest single market."

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The UK government's Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "It is good news that unemployment continues to fall in Scotland.

"But with Scotland's employment rates now lagging behind the rate of the UK and economic inactivity on the rise, these figures should be a concern to the Scottish government.

"It is important they use their budget next month to set out how they plan to use the significant new tax and welfare powers they now have to support the Scottish economy.

"The UK government is supporting people into work and backing businesses to grow and create jobs across the UK, as we build a country that works for everyone."

Scottish Labour said SNP ministers needed to ask hard questions as to "why 190,000 Scots are out of employment but want a job".

The party's economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "Economic inactivity in Scotland has increased over the past year while it has fallen across the UK.

"The SNP is trying to brush these figures under the carpet. If ministers are serious about economic development they would commission a study into economic inactivity in Scotland.

"However, as we saw from their game-playing yesterday, where the SNP refused to endorse the importance of the UK single market to Scottish jobs, we know that the economy comes second to politics with the nationalists."

'Invest in education'

The Scottish Liberal Democrats described the fall in employment as "a real cause for concern".

Economy spokeswoman Carolyn Caddick said: "The way to work towards the high-skilled, high-wage economy we want to see is to invest in education."

Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) welcomed the fall in unemployment but warned against "complacency on the part of government" and called for a renewed focus on supporting business growth.

Chief executive Liz Cameron said: "If Scotland is to get back on the path to stronger economic performance, then we need more people in work and only Scotland's businesses can deliver this.

"That is why it is vital that the UK and Scottish governments use their upcoming Autumn Statement and Scottish Budget, respectively, to deliver tangible support to our businesses and thus provide a clear boost to business confidence at this time."

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said: "The fall in unemployment reported today really shouldn't blind people to the significant fall in employment and further surge in inactivity.

"The fall in unemployment in Scotland over the past two years is wholly accounted for by rising inactivity; employment has fallen.

"Rising inactivity can only be positive if more people are entering education and training. However, the number of people who cite being a student as the reason they are currently inactive has remained static over this period."

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