Scotland business

Scottish unemployment rises by 19,000

Jobcentre window Image copyright PA

The number of people out of work in Scotland climbed by 19,000 to 168,000 in the first quarter of the year, according to official figures.

Office for National Statistics data showed an unemployment rate of 6%, compared with 5.5% for the whole of the UK.

UK unemployment fell by 35,000 between January and March to 1.83 million.

Employment in Scotland went down by 3,000 over the three months, and now stands at 2,622,000.

The number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance fell by 1,100 to 77,500 between March and April - 25,300 lower than a year ago.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "Today's figures are a stark reminder of the difficult economic situation we have come through and the work which remains to ensure our economic recovery works for everybody and every part of our country."

The Scottish government said the latest data showed the lowest youth unemployment level in Scotland for seven years.

Fair Work Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "While there has been a slight increase in unemployment this quarter, this will be accounted for in part by falling levels of economic inactivity, which is at an all-time low, as people join the labour market and start looking for work."

'Wrong direction'

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the job numbers were "going in the wrong direction".

"My fear is that Scottish ministers are spending their time playing power games at Westminster rather than focussing on their own day jobs," he added.

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie claimed the latest figures proved that the economy was "still not working for most people".

He added: "We continue to see problems in our economy with an insecure jobs market, coupled with the threat of further cuts to public services and the stripping of workers' rights."

'Disappointing'

Responding to the figures, Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said: "These latest unemployment figures for Scotland are disappointing but are consistent with the weak employment trends we have been picking up from Scottish businesses in the early part of this year.

"Nevertheless, despite a fall in employment levels over the quarter, Scotland's employment rate remains high and there are reasons to be optimistic for the future."

The Scottish policy convener for the Federation of Small Businesses, Andy Willox, said: "Scotland's small and medium-sized businesses already sustain more than a million jobs.

"If we're to dent these stubborn unemployment figures, Scotland's decision makers will need to further tap the potential of this vital resource.

"These lukewarm national figures also mask a story of uneven recovery. While the future looks bright in some localities, others aren't so fortunate.

"We need new strategies to turn around these communities, and their local enterprises need to be at the centre of these plans."

More on this story

Related Internet links

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