Scottish unemployment falls below UK rate

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Unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 14,000 in the three months to March to reach 120,000, official figures have shown.

It takes the jobless rate to 4.4% - below the rate of 4.6% for the whole of the UK.

The labour market statistics also show that employment in Scotland increased by 5,000 and now stands at 2,620,000.

In the UK as a whole, the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 42 years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the Scottish employment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points over the quarter to 74%. The rate is below the UK average of 74.8%.

In April 2017, the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance was 48,200. The claimant count, including Universal Credit, was 80,000.

The Scottish government said the ONS figures also showed a strong performance for Scotland in the female labour market, with the unemployment rate for women falling by 0.7 percentage points over the year to 4.2%.

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The youth employment rate was 3.9 percentage points higher than the previous year, with the level rising by 15,000.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "Today's statistics show that Scotland's labour market continues to perform well in the face of significant economic challenges.

"Unemployment is down, employment is up and Scotland's youth unemployment rate is the fourth lowest in the EU. This is welcome news.

"We will work to support employment and our priority remains developing the correct conditions for economic growth, including through taking forward our multi-billion pound infrastructure plan, and the Scottish Growth Scheme."

Mr Brown added that the Scottish government would continue to tackle issues around inactivity in the labour market.

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