Scotland business

Scottish unemployment up by 6,000, say ONS

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Unemployment in Scotland rose by 6,000 between November and January to stand at 162,000, according to official figures.

Employment also increased over the same period by 6,000 to 2,611,000.

The Scottish jobless rate is 5.9%, which is above the rate of 5.7% for the whole of the UK.

The number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance fell by 2,000 to 79,400 between January and February - 27,700 fewer than a year ago.

The UK's jobless total fell by 102,000 to 1.86 million in the three months to January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Scottish government's Fair Work Secretary Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the latest figures, which she said showed that Scotland was outperforming the UK on employment and inactivity rates.

'Oil and gas'

Ms Cunningham added: "Whilst Scotland continues to have a higher employment rate than the UK as a whole, today's figures show a slight increase in unemployment on the previous quarter.

"This can be explained, in part, by falling levels of economic inactivity as more people join the labour market and start looking for work.

"Given the increase in the claimant count in both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire over the last month, difficulties faced by the oil and gas sector may also be a factor - reinforcing the need for Chancellor George Osborne to use today's Budget to at long last take the action on oil taxation we have been calling for since the start of the year."

The UK government's Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "Today's figures round off a remarkable period of success for this government - we now have 174,000 more people in Scotland in work than we did in 2010.

"The number of women in employment has also increased by 101,000 in that time. That shows the real difference the economic choices of this government have made to the lives of people in Scotland.

"We saw record employment in 2014, while the number of people claiming benefits has fallen by over 27,000 over the last 12 months and is down to a level last seen in June 2008."

Increase 'disappointing'

Scottish Labour's finance spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the statistics were "bad news for Scotland".

She said: "The Scottish jobless total is above the rate for the whole of the UK, and Scotland's emergency services are bearing the brunt of SNP cuts."

Ms Baillie added: "Thousands of Scots face an uncertain labour market, trapped between governments in Westminster and Holyrood that do not work for them."

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said any increase in unemployment was disappointing and served as a reminder of the challenges that continued to affect the Scottish economy.

She added: "These figures cover a period when the effects of the low oil prices were beginning to bite in our oil and gas sector.

"That said, we should remember that employment has also increased by 6,000 over the same period and the reason for these apparently contradictory changes has been that Scotland's pool of available workers has grown overall.

"This points to a relatively healthy economy where many businesses are continuing to expand and create new job opportunities, and this reflects the feedback we are getting from businesses that we speak to across Scotland."

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Grahame Smith said: "In advance of today's Budget, this is a worrying set of statistics for Scotland: unemployment is up and employment is static.

"Scotland is one of only two nations and regions of the UK to register an increase in unemployment over the past three months."

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