Scotland business

Rise in Scottish jobless figures

Jobcentre
Image caption The number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) fell in September

Unemployment in Scotland rose by 7,000 over the past quarter, according to new official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the number of jobless reached 212,000 in the three months to August.

The Scottish unemployment rate was 7.9% - below the UK average of 8.1%.

The number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) fell by 200 in September to reach 145,200.

The labour market statistics also showed employment in Scotland fell by 24,000 over the quarter, and increased by 20,000 over the year to stand at 2,474,000.

Meanwhile, UK unemployment rose by 114,000 between June and August to 2.57 million - a 17-year high.

The Scottish employment rate is now 71.2% - above the UK average of 70.4%.

The Scottish government said the statistics showed that the Scottish labour market continued to outperform the UK as a whole, with lower unemployment, higher employment and lower economic inactivity rates.

'Plan MacB'

First Minister Alex Salmond said the figures reinforced the Scottish government's demand that the UK government deliver a "Plan MacB" approach immediately to ensure that recovery in Scotland was "not derailed by Westminster's wrong-headed economic policy".

He said: "Scottish unemployment is down by 25,000 from its peak during the recession, but joblessness across the UK is now at its highest level since 1994.

"A Westminster 'Plan MacB' must deliver real action in the areas where Scottish government policy is making 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."

He added: "With the levers we currently control in Scotland, the government and our enterprise agencies are doing everything within our powers to secure new investment and employment.

"Recent jobs announcements by Aker, Avaloq, Dell, Gamesa, Amazon and Doosan Power Systems are testament to the quality workforce, skills and infrastructure we have in Scotland."

'Deeply concerning'

Labour's finance spokesman Richard Baker described the figures as "deeply concerning".

He said: "The Scottish economy desperately needs growth and we need a plan from John Swinney that actually gets results.

"Last month the Scottish government sought to take credit for a small fall in unemployment while it increased in the rest of the UK.

"Today unemployment is up in Scotland too so the Scottish Government must not evade responsibility and should respond with a change of course."

Mr Baker added: "While Alex Salmond talks on the TV about 'Plan MacB', he is cutting capital investment more than even George Osborne, cutting key drivers of growth like colleges, and presiding over continuing stagnation in the Scottish economy.

"Scotland is stuck between a Tory government cutting too fast and an SNP government whose economic policy simply isn't working."

'Difficult reminder'

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: "These figures are a difficult reminder of the task we face in continuing our fight for jobs in Scotland.

"The rise in unemployment is undoubtedly a painful one and a cause for concern, particularly for those families and individuals directly affected by a job loss.

"But we should not lose our focus. The UK government is doing all it can do to support the economy and our plan to reduce the deficit is the right one, particularly when we see the way difficult economic circumstances are affecting other countries."

He added: "Our actions, such as the creation of the most competitive tax system in the G20 and reducing corporation tax to 23% by 2014, will help create the right conditions for balanced and sustainable economic growth."

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron commented: "The second half of this year was always going to be a difficult one for employment in Scotland with public sector cuts beginning to take hold, cost pressures on the increase and growing concerns about the state of the US and Eurozone economies.

"Against this background, maintaining overall employment levels in Scotland was always going to be a challenge.

"That said, it is encouraging that Scotland's unemployment rate continues to be below the UK average and our employment rate remains above average and this is evidence of the resilience of our economy against global challenges."

Ms Cameron added it was time additional spending on infrastructure was considered by the Uk government as part of its strategy to reinvigorate growth.

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