Scottish unemployment figures show largest drop for four years

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  By Bob Duncan
 
The latest jobless figures show the largest fall in Scotland for 4 years, as Scotland’s headline and youth unemployment rates both drop back below those of the UK.
 
The SNP has welcomed figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showing Scotland’s unemployment rate is lower than the UK’s and said the Autumn Statement’s long overdue £394 million extra capital investment can help build on this progress.

Unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 19,000 – a decrease of 0.6 per cent to 7.6% while the UK’s rate fell 0.2 per cent to 7.8%.

Unemployment over the same period in London, which benefited directly from spending on the Olympics, was 9.0%, an increase of 0.3% from the previous period.

The labour market statistics also showed employment in Scotland fell by 27,000 over the same quarter from August to October. However the ONS report warns that this may simply be “due to sampling variability on the latest estimate and the estimate for the 3 months to July 2012”.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the statistics showed the largest fall in the unemployment rate in Scotland since early 2008.

The youth unemployment rate – which covers 16 to 24-year-olds – fell by 4.3% over the year to 21.1%, and is now also back below the UK rate.

Mr Swinney said: “We welcome this fall in unemployment over the quarter and the substantial drop in youth unemployment over the year in particular.

“These figures mean the headline jobless rate now at its lowest in almost three years, but more still needs to be done, particularly in light of the fall in employment.”

Mr Swinney stressed that tackling youth unemployment remained a priority, and the Scottish government was investing a total of £80m in creating opportunities for young people.

He added: “However, Scotland needs its own economic and financial powers to allow us to follow a uniquely Scottish approach that will bring much needed jobs and investment for a prosperous future for all.”

SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism committee, said:

“Scotland’s unemployment rate is lower than the UK as a whole and the lowest of all UK nations – something we must build upon.

“What is particularly welcome is the trend in youth unemployment which has fallen by 4.3% and is also lower than the UK’s rate.

“The SNP Government is doing all it can to support employment – we have drawn together £180m in our budget to specifically boost the economy and created an £80 million fund to create opportunities to help improve the job prospects of 23,000 young people.

“These are welcome trends in Scotland’s jobs sector – but something we could have been helped to reach a long time ago if the UK government had released the extra capital funding we have been calling on for so long much earlier than they did.

“That money is welcome but long overdue – and the SNP has been calling for additional capital investment literally for years.

“Targeted investment in infrastructure is essential to get our economy moving again and we only wish the Tory-LibDem coalition agreed with our viewpoint long before they did.

“With the powers of an independent Scotland these decisions would be made by people 100% elected in Scotland, ensuring that jobs and growth are not stymied by obstruction at Westminster.”

Welcoming the significant fall in the youth jobless figure, Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance, who is today launching a campaign to encourage employers to support young unemployed people, said:

“Today’s figures are a very welcome step in the right direction and reflect the important initiatives the Scottish Government has been taking forward to promote youth employment.

“However, there must be no let up in our efforts to reduce the youth jobless figure still further. I have spent much of the last year selling the benefits of taking on young people to businesses in Scotland and today marks a significant step forward. The Make Young People Your Business initiative which I am launching today highlights, in the clearest possible terms, the benefits that a young person can bring to all types of business, both large and small, and how businesses can go about recruiting them.

“In Scotland, we have a talented, enthusiastic generation of young people, many of whom need assistance in finding work. In the current economic climate, young people can bring enormous enthusiasm, fresh ideas and creative modern thinking to help drive businesses and the Scottish economy forward.

“The same young people can be nurtured, trained and could very well become the future of whatever company they join. In truth, the young people are the business of all of us, right across the public, private and third sectors, but today it is Scotland’s enterprise community that I am calling on to Make Young People Your Business.”