Scottish employment at five-year high

Employment is at its highest level since the summer of 2008

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Employment in Scotland has reached its highest level for five years, according to the latest official figures.

Employment rose by 37,000 over the three months to August, and now stands at 2,548,000.

The number of unemployed Scots fell by 3,000 to 201,000 over the summer period.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the Scottish jobless rate at 7.3%, which is below the average of 7.7% for the whole of the UK.

The number of unemployed in the UK fell by 18,000 in the June-August period to 2.49 million.

Meanwhile, the number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) in Scotland fell by 3,500 from August to 121,800 in September.

The total was down by 18,200 on September 2012.

The labour market statistics were released as figures showed that the Scottish economy grew for the fourth successive quarter, with growth of 0.6% during April to June.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael described the labour market figures as "very encouraging".

He said: "We continue to work hard to create the right conditions for sustained long-term employment in Scotland.

"As part of the UK, Scotland gains from tax reductions such as the new employment allowance of £2,000 per year, benefiting 70,000 businesses in Scotland by £100m in total, and taking 35,000 businesses out of employer national insurance contributions altogether."

'Positive figures'

Finance Secretary Mr Swinney also welcomed the latest figures.

He said: "These positive figures highlight the significant economic progress being made in Scotland.

"While times remain challenging, Scotland's economy has grown faster than the UK over the last year to quarter two, with employment now at a five-year high and the economy growing for the fourth consecutive quarter.

"On figures for employment, unemployment, inactivity and youth employment Scotland continues to perform better than the UK as a whole, with the employment rate amongst our young people continuing to be the highest of all UK nations."

Scottish Labour's deputy finance spokeswoman, Jenny Marra, described the latest data as "encouraging" but argued that the Scottish government must demonstrate its commitment to long-term economic recovery "rather than gloating over minor shifts in the numbers each month".

She added: "Over the last year there's been very little overall movement in the employment figures, except we know that more young people are out of work for longer and there's more women now looking for jobs."

'Continued optimism'

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said the labour market figures showed "continued optimism" for Scotland's workforce.

She added: "This economic indicator provides a welcome sign that the economy is heading in the right direction and businesses across Scotland should be commended for their efforts in creating and sustaining jobs.

"These figures provide us with comfort, however we must not become complacent in our mission to revive Scotland's economy."

Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith said: "Despite modest improvements on a couple of indicators, including youth unemployment, the picture in Scotland is essentially one of 12-month stagnation in the employment market and some worrying trends on women's unemployment.

"The improvement in long-term unemployment trends is a slightly surprising but welcome trend which we hope will continue."

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