Scotland business

Scotland's jobless total falls by 15,000 between May and July

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Image caption The Scottish unemployment rate is slightly lower than the UK figure

Unemployment in Scotland stood at 168,000 in the last quarter, falling by 15,000 between May and July, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Scottish unemployment rate stands at 6%, just below the UK rate of 6.2%.

The number claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), fell by 3,200 from 92,900 July to 89,700 in August.

Across the UK as a whole, unemployment fell by 146,000 to 2.02 million, and to its lowest rate since the third quarter of 2008.

The ONS figures also revealed:

  • The number of people in employment in Scotland from May to July 2014 was 2,623,000, the highest on record.
  • Employment was up by 45,000 compared to the previous three months, and up by 87,000 over the year.
  • The number of people defined as economically active rose by 30,000, to 2,791,000.
  • The employment rate in Scotland is 73.9%, with the UK figure 73%.
  • The number of women in employment reached a record high of 1,266,000.

Both sides in the independence debate claimed the figures were a boost for their campaign.

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "They are a huge vote of economic confidence in Scotland's future and expose the scaremongering of the No campaign.

"We now have the highest employment on record - and unemployment, while still too high, is falling steadily.

"On every headline figure we are outperforming the UK. That is the reality of Scotland's economy and that clearly demonstrates how wrong the scaremongering of the UK Government and the No campaign has been."

But Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the statistics underlined the "better together" message.

He said: ""On the eve of the most important vote in the history of these islands, Scotland's employment has risen by 45,000 in the three months to July.

"These numbers, and our strengthening recovery, are a powerful demonstration of how we are better together."

Business confidence

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, described the figures as "very welcome".

She added: "Not only is this below the UK rate of 6.2% but in addition to unemployment falling by 15,000; employment is up by 45,000 over the same period. This is proof of the confidence that Scottish businesses have been experiencing and demonstrates the underlying strength of the private sector in Scotland.

"It is particularly important to note that falling female unemployment in Scotland accounts for the largest part of this latest overall reduction.

"This is in stark contrast to the position that Scotland was in during the same period last year, when female unemployment was far higher than for men in Scotland.

"Of course, getting people into work is only one part of the route to economic growth. We must also focus on increasing productivity, as this will tackle the issue of current shallow levels of wage increases, which have lagged behind inflation for almost all of this year."

Older workers

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), said the figures were "relatively strong" but there were several reasons for caution.

He said: "The first is the ongoing and unprecedented fall in real wages.

"The second is the huge rise in self-employment; 10% in the quarter to June. This trend alone provides at least part of the explanation for falling real wages.

"The third is that no new statistics were provided today on full-time, part-time or under-employment.

"It is genuinely remarkable that nearly half of the net new jobs created over the last quarter were filled by people aged over 65.

"Trends in employment by age are under discussed and hold potentially profound consequences, particularly for young workers. Government at all levels needs to wake up to this now".

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