Employment in Scotland is at its highest level since the summer of 2008 according to labour market figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today. This comes as Scottish Government figures show continued growth in GDP.
This is the ninth consecutive monthly release to show an increase in the employment rate.
Over the latest quarter, employment increased by 37,000 in Scotland, with rates for those aged 16-64 rising by 0.9 percentage points to 72.8 per cent. This is a greater increase than in the UK as a whole where the employment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points to 71.7 per cent.
Unemployment decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 7.3 per cent, below the UK rate of 7.7 per cent, while Scotland’s inactivity rate is at its lowest level since records began in 1992.
Today’s published youth employment rates for Scotland – which should only be compared across a 12 month period – continue to be the highest of all nations in the UK with the employment rate amongst 16-24 year olds increasing by 1.0 percentage points over the past year and the unemployment rate falling by 1.4 percentage points.
The ONS figures come on the same day as the Scottish Government GDP Statistical Bulletin shows that the Scottish economy grew for the fourth successive quarter with growth of 0.6 per cent during April to June 2013, the same as in the UK over the same period. Compared with the same quarter in 2012, the Scottish economy grew by 1.8 per cent over the year, outperforming the UK where the economy grew by 1.3 per cent.
Scotland’s strong performance reflects growth across the construction, services and production sectors. The construction sector saw the most growth over the quarter, expanding by 2.1 per cent, showing a pick-up within the industry.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, commented on the figures during a visit to Entrepreneurial Spark, an incubator facility for new businesses. During the visit Mr Swinney met with Scottish start-ups that have benefited from the Scottish Government’s EDGE Fund.
Mr Swinney said:
“These positive figures highlight the significant economic progress being made in Scotland. While times remain challenging Scotland’s economy has grown faster than the UK over the last year to quarter two, with employment now at a five year high and the economy growing for the fourth consecutive quarter.
“On figures for employment, unemployment, inactivity and youth employment Scotland continues to perform better than the UK as a whole, with the employment rate amongst our young people continuing to be the highest of all UK nations.
“Encouragingly the number of people claiming job seekers allowance is also at its lowest level since March 2009.
“This continued growth in Scotland’s economy is helping to create more jobs and opportunities for the people of Scotland. The services industry has grown for the fourth consecutive quarter and there has been substantial quarterly growth in the construction sector, which is being supported by Scottish Government’s investment in building projects across the country.
“Our concern in that Westminster’s pursuit of austerity over economic recovery with at least five more years of cuts to public spending, further welfare reform and the failure of the Work Programme to properly support people could derail Scotland’s recovery.
“With the full fiscal and economic powers of independence the Scottish Government could do yet more to strengthen our economy and create more jobs.”
Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance, who is today attending the Joint Ministerial Committee where the impacts of UK decisions on youth employment will be discussed, said:
“I welcome today’s statistics that again show Scotland has a higher youth employment rate compared to the UK.
“The First Minister and I have today called on the UK Government to stop short-changing Scotland’s young people and support the European Youth Guarantee, which could provide further support to help people in to work.
“The Scottish Government will do all it can to help more young people. With our £88 million business growth and Youth Employment Scotland Fund we will create up to 10,000 new jobs and Opportunities for All which guarantees a place in work of training for all 16-19 year olds.”