Scotland business

Further fall in Scottish jobless figures

Job centre sign, Glasgow
Image caption The Scottish unemployment rate stands at 8.1%, just above the UK rate of 8%

The number of people unemployed in Scotland fell in the three months to the end of January, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of jobless dropped by 16,000 to 218,000.

In contrast, UK unemployment rose by 27,000 and now stands at 2.53 million.

The number of adults out of work and claiming benefit in Scotland in February fell by 2,100 to 137,600 - the first monthly fall since September.

The Scottish unemployment rate now stands at 8.1%, just above the UK average unemployment rate of 8.0%.

Employment in Scotland increased by 8,000 in the three months to the end of January, the figures showed.

Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore welcomed the figures but warned against complacency.

The Lib Dem minister added: "There are still too many Scots out of work, and the government is determined to help.

"At next week's Budget, we will set out further details of the government's plans for returning the country to sustainable growth with a balanced economy."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Today's figures present further signs that Scotland's economy is strengthening and show the Scottish government's robust actions to support jobs, skills and training are delivering real results.

"For four consecutive monthly labour market statistics releases Scotland has been the only UK nation with rising employment and falling unemployment; and Scotland has a higher employment rate and lower economic inactivity rate than the UK.

'Grim reading'

However the Labour party put a different interpretation on the latest figures and claimed they had in fact gone up.

Shadow finance secretary Andy Kerr said: "These figures make grim reading. They show that the recent trend of falling unemployment in Scotland is going into reverse."

He added: "Unemployment is a personal tragedy for those who experience it and we desperately need to promote growth in the economy. In particular, no society can afford to bear the social or economic cost of long-term youth unemployment."

Conservative finance spokesman Derek Brownlee MSP welcomed the fall in unemployment but said the rate was still too high.

"Politicians at all levels need to do all we can to help create new jobs," he said.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) chief executive Lucy McTernan said the figures masked the extent of the economic crisis for those on short-term and part-time contracts.

Public sector

She said: "The drop in the numbers of unemployed is obviously welcome, but the truth is that there are still far too many people out of work in Scotland - or living in fear of losing their jobs.

"Even with today's figures, the number of unemployed Scots is still more than double what it was three years ago."

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Grahame Smith said: "The headline statistics do not reflect the true state of the labour market.

"The rise in employment is accounted for by increasing numbers of people working in part-time, not full-time, jobs.

"Youth unemployment continues to rise and long-term unemployment among all age groups is unacceptably high."

Meanwhile, figures published by the Scottish government showed the number of people working in the public sector in Scotland had fallen by 18,000 in the past year.

The figures showed that almost one in four people in Scotland worked for the public sector.

Most of the fall in staff numbers was in organisations which are under the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.

The number of people working for the part-nationalised banks in Scotland rose by 1,700.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites