Official statistics published today show a strengthening of the Scottish labour market, as unemployment across the UK as a whole rose above 2.5 million.
Among all the nations and regions of the UK, Scotland is the only place where unemployment fell in the latest quarter, May-July 2011.
During this three-month period, unemployment in Scotland fell by 3,000 with the rate falling by 0.2 percentage points to 7.5 per cent, compared to a UK-wide increase of 80,000 and a rise of 0.3 percentage points in the rate to 7.9 per cent. Over the year, Scottish unemployment has fallen by 33,000, while UK levels increased by 44,000.
Scottish employment (which refers to the population aged 16-64) increased by 23,000 or 0.7 per cent to 71.6 per cent in the latest quarter. Again, Scotland is outperforming the UK, where employment fell by 69,000 and employment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 70.5 per cent during May-July 2011.
Over the year, Scottish employment rose by 36,000 – encompassing the entire 24,000 figure for the aggregate employment increase in the UK as a whole.
The figures also show that the economic inactivity rate in Scotland fell by 0.6 percentage points to 22.5 per cent over the three-month period May to July. This compares to a UK rate of 23.3 per cent in the same period.
The claimant count in Scotland increased by 1,200 in August, while the rate remained unchanged at 5.4 per cent. In the UK as a whole, the claimant count increased by 20,300, and the rate increased by 0.1 percentage points.
First Minister Alex Salmond said that the UK Government must deliver a Plan B in order not to derail the recovery being built in Scotland.
Mr Salmond said:
“It is encouraging to see Scotland’s labour market continuing to improve. In the quarter May-July 2011, unemployment in Scotland fell by 3,000 and employment rose by 23,000 – while in the UK as a whole unemployment increased by 80,000 to above 2.5 million, while employment fell by 69,000.
“Among all the nations and regions of the UK, Scotland was the only place with falling unemployment over the quarter, and we also have the largest decline in the unemployment rate over the year. Indeed, the rise in Scottish employment over the year of 36,000 encompasses the entire UK-wide figure of 24,000.
“But as the claimant count rise indicates, more needs to be done and there are no grounds for complacency. We are building jobs and recovery in Scotland, and the UK Government must implement a Plan B if our recovery is not to be derailed.
“In our refreshed economic strategy this week, we set out how we are focussing our efforts on accelerating recovery, creating jobs and developing a more resilient and adaptable economy.
“We have established a new strategic priority – the transition to a low carbon economy – building on Scotland’s competitive advantage in this vital area, and reflecting the excellent opportunity we have to secure investment and jobs in the low carbon sector.
“But we also need action from the UK Government – a Plan B – to protect Scotland’s economic recovery and jobs. This must focus on the areas where Scottish Government action has made a difference: increased capital expenditure, improved access to finance for medium and small sized businesses, as well as the introduction of measures to boost consumer confidence and economic security.
“The Scottish Government also needs greater access to the key levers of economic growth, such as corporation tax and borrowing powers. This would enable us to do even more to enhance investment and jobs in the Scottish economy, and give Scotland a major competitive edge.”