Scottish unemployment figures fall for third month


The latest labour market statistics, covering the three month period February to April 2012, show that employment in Scotland is rising and unemployment is falling.

Scotland continues to have a higher rate of employment and a lower rate of economic inactivity than the rest of the UK.

The labour market statistics, published and produced by the Office for National Statistics, show that unemployment in Scotland fell by 14,000 over the three month period February to April, with the rate falling by 0.5 percentage points to 8.2 per cent. This is the third month of published statistics to show a fall in unemployment.  The UK unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.2 per cent.

The headline level of employment, for the population aged 16 and over, increased by 18,000 over the same period.  Scotland’s headline employment rate, for people aged 16 to 64, rose by 0.3 percentage points to 71.1 per cent, remaining higher than the UK rate of 70.6 per cent.

Scotland’s headline employment rate remains higher than the UK as a whole for the nineteenth consecutive month of labour market statistics.

Over the year, the employment rate in Scotland rose by 0.2 percentage points while it remained unchanged across the UK.

Economic inactivity rose by 0.1 percentage points in Scotland in February-April to 22.4 per cent, which is lower than the UK rate of 23.0 per cent.

Over the month of May, Scotland’s claimant count rose by 400 to 142,600, leaving the rate unchanged at 5.2 per cent.

The unemployment level for 16-24 year olds in Scotland was 86,000 for February-April, and the rate was 21.3 per cent.  However, it is important to note that in January-March, 27 per cent of 16-24 year olds who were unemployed in Scotland were also in full time education.

The employment rate for 16-24 year olds in Scotland was 53.0 per cent, 4.3 percentage points higher than the comparable UK figure of 48.7 per cent.

At 66.4 per cent, the rate of female employment in Scotland remains the highest of all UK countries and higher than the UK as a whole (65.5 per cent).

Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

“These figures show again that Scotland has a higher employment rate – for the nineteenth consecutive month of labour market statistics – and a lower rate of economic inactivity than the UK as a whole.

“Unemployment has continued to fall for the third month of figures, and the rate remains lower than in most of the other nations and regions of the UK – but while these are welcome trends, more needs to be done.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything within our current powers, working with our agencies, to create and bring jobs to Scotland with significant success – the latest Ernst and Young report, published today, shows that Scotland is the top performing location in the UK for achieving inward investment jobs.  Recently, Aker Solutions announced plans to add another 500 jobs to its current 2,700 strong operation in the North East, on top of announcements from Enercon and Gamesa.

“There are positive indications in the Scottish economy, but an expansion of capital investment by the UK Government is needed to boost job creation.

“We submitted a list of over 30 shovel-ready projects to the Prime Minister in March, and if these projects could go ahead now they would provide a vital boost to jobs and economic activity in Scotland.

“This has to be addressed as a matter of urgency – it’s time for the Westminster government to stop dragging its heels, and deliver the funding so that work on these projects can get underway and benefit communities across Scotland.

“We continue to face particular challenges in terms of youth and female unemployment, and we are taking forward specific initiatives to address these.  For example, the First Minister announced at the STUC Annual Congress that the Scottish Government would hold a Women’s Employment Summit to consider what steps can be taken to increase female employment across Scotland.

“With the full fiscal powers of independence we could do even more – but in the meantime the UK Government must help, rather than hinder, the process of economic recovery.”