Scottish employment at its highest for four years

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  By Martin Kelly
 
Employment in Scotland is now at its highest level since 2009, according to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
 
The statistics show that between February and April this year the headline employment level rose by 47,000 and now stands at 2,530,000. This is an increase of 1.1 percentage points to 72.2 per cent, compared to the UK employment rate which fell by 0.1 percentage points to 71.5 per cent.

  By Martin Kelly
 
Employment in Scotland is now at its highest level since 2009, according to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
 
The statistics show that between February and April this year the headline employment level rose by 47,000 and now stands at 2,530,000. This is an increase of 1.1 percentage points to 72.2 per cent, compared to the UK employment rate which fell by 0.1 percentage points to 71.5 per cent.

Newly published details of Scotland’s employment situation also show that unemployment has fallen for the seventh month in a row.

Over the three months February to April 2013, the level of unemployment in Scotland fell by 6,000.  The rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 7.1 per cent, whilst the UK unemployment rate remained static at 7.8 per cent over the same period.

The only other part of the UK to record a drop in their jobless total was Northern Ireland which saw its unemployment total down by 5,000.  In Wales there was no change in the total number unemployed but in England unemployment was up by 6,000.

Scotland is now outperforming the rest of the UK on all three labour market indicators of employment, unemployment and inactivity rates for both the headline statistics for the population as a whole and the statistics for young people.

The employment rate is now higher in Scotland than in any of the four nations of the UK, whilst the unemployment rate in Scotland is lower than in any of the four nations of the UK.

Scotland’s youth labour market continued its strong performance of recent months, with the unemployment rate falling by 6.1 percentage points over the year to February to April 2013.

The Scottish youth unemployment rate of 15.2 per cent is lower than the UK rate of 19.5 per cent, whilst the rate for those in work increased by 4.0 percentage points over the year to 57.1 per cent, significantly higher than the UK rate of 49.7 per cent.

Youth unemployment in Scotland has fallen from 25.4 per cent when Angela Constance was appointed as Minister for Youth Employment in December 2011.  Scotland now has one of the lowest levels of youth joblessness in the European Union, with only five EU countries now having a lower youth unemployment rate than Scotland.

Ms Constance said:

“Today’s figures show that in the past year Scotland has seen a decrease in unemployment and increase in employment rates amongst our young people compared to the UK.

“These figures are clear evidence that the action we are taking to support young people into employment, including the Modern Apprenticeship programme, is making a difference.

“The support from companies to create jobs for our young people is a very welcome part of this success story.  In May, we heard that B&Q will be opening a new £10 million superstore in Port Glasgow, creating 50 jobs and Lloyds Banking Group will be taking on 55 new apprenticeships in Glasgow as part of its wider plans to create 1,000 apprenticeships this year.

“These and similar positive announcements provide an encouraging backdrop for these young people leaving school, college and universities to enter the labour market.”

Today’s figures coincide with the publication of public sector employment statistics by the Scottish Government which show a 1.4 percentage point fall in public sector employment and an increase of 60,600 people working in the private sector.

Commenting First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Today’s figures mark another significant rise in employment, with an increase of 47,000 people in work across Scotland.

“Particularly welcome is the continuing fall in youth unemployment, which has fallen by 6.1 percentage points over the year, and which has dropped dramatically since I appointed Angela Constance as Youth Employment Minister.

“Today I have announced further measures to support youth employment, with an £88 million investment into work and supporting small business growth.  This investment will help create 10,000 new youth jobs.

“This money shows our commitment to support young people in Scotland, and to work with local government and other social partners in a series of initiatives to provide employers with the help they need to create youth jobs.”

Mr Salmond added: “The Westminster government’s continued pursuit of austerity is the biggest risk to Scotland’s economic recovery.  Without the tools of independence to do the job properly, Scotland risks having all the progress we have made undone. 

“The Chancellor has the opportunity at the Spending Review this month to change his plans, and recognise that the key route to deficit reduction is economic growth and the key to economic growth is investment not austerity.”

The news comes on the back of excellent reports showing the Scottish economy experiencing sustained signs of recovery.  Today retail data showed growth continuing at a steady pace.

On Monday the Bank of Scotland’s chief economist Donald MacRae said the recovery in Scotland was becoming “more strongly embedded”.

Last week the Ernst and Young UK Attractiveness Survey showed that foreign direct investment projects coming to Scotland in 2012 are at their highest level for 15 years, and rose by almost 50% in 2012.  Scotland is now ranked number one for inward investment projects outside London, up from number two last year.

“We are committed to maintaining and building sustainable economic growth in Scotland and delivering the most competitive business environment anywhere in the UK.

“With the full fiscal and economic powers of independence the Scottish Government could do yet more to strengthen our economy and create jobs.” said the First Minister.