Scotland business

Scotland's unemployment total rises again

Jobcentre window Image copyright PA

Unemployment in Scotland has risen for the third time in a row, according to official figures.

The jobless total went up by 8,000 between January and March to stand at 169,000.

UK unemployment fell by 2,000 over the same period to 1.69m, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

The jobless rate north of the border is now 6.2%, compared with 5.1% for the whole of the UK.

Employment in Scotland fell by 53,000 over the three months to March to stand at 2,578,000.

The rate is now 73.1% - below the UK average of 74.2%.

The number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) in Scotland fell by 600 between March and April to 57,400 - 21,100 fewer than a year ago.

'Ongoing challenges'

Scottish Fair Work Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "Today's statistics highlight ongoing challenges in Scotland's labour market.

"Despite this, there are 141,000 more people now working in Scotland compared to the low during the recession.

"We saw record numbers in employment in Scotland during 2015 but employment rates are perhaps now starting to reflect the current economic challenges we are facing, in particular in the oil and gas industry."

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said it was "deeply disappointing" that unemployment had risen for a third time in a row in Scotland.

He added: "The SNP government cannot evade responsibility for this failure, as the gap between UK and Scottish unemployment rates continues to grow.

"The UK government is doing its bit on the economy - that's been proven beyond doubt over the last few years.

"But the Nationalists like hiding behind the constitution, and are coming up with no fresh ideas to find people the work they need."

'Urgent action needed'

Scottish Labour public services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "It is clear that there is no future for Scotland as a low-wage, low-skill economy.

"We have to invest in education to give our people the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "We need urgent action to ensure that we can build a strong sustainable economy and that starts with a transformational investment in education so businesses can hire the skilled staff they need."

Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith said the latest statistics were "worrying".

He added: "The Scottish labour market is experiencing a grim year and survey evidence suggests employment will continue to fall.

"The Scottish government must quickly reassess whether its programme for the current year is sufficiently employment maximising."

'Unsettling figures'

The Federation of Small Businesses said the "unsettling jobs figures should trigger an amber alert for Scotland's governments".

The organisation's head of external affairs in Scotland, Colin Borland, added: "The decline in the oil and gas industry is obviously a factor - with the impact now being felt beyond the north of the country and the immediate supply chain.

"But, right across the economy, many small businesses are grappling with a raft of new regulatory changes, including the National Living Wage and new pension rules.

"These changes may be dampening recruitment intentions in our vital service sector."

Related Internet links

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