Scotland business

Further fall in Scottish unemployment figures

job centre Image copyright PA

Unemployment in Scotland has fallen, with the number of people in employment rising by a record level, according to the latest figures.

The labour market data showed that unemployment fell by 26,000 between April and June to stand at 143,000.

The Scottish unemployment rate is now 5.2%, which is above the rate of 4.9% for the UK as a whole.

Employment in Scotland increased by 51,000 over the same period, and now stands at 2,629,000.

This was the highest quarterly rise since records began - although the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which publishes the figures, said this was largely due to "an estimate in the previous period much lower than other recent estimates, with the underlying pattern mostly flat".

Analysis

By business and economy editor Douglas Fraser

Will economic forecasters have to eat either their hats or at least some humble pie? All the dire warnings about Brexit, and here are sharply improved jobs figures.

Inflation ticked up in this week's figures, but not by much. Mortgage applications have held up, and the property market too.

But hang on. The humble pie should stay in the freezer for now. It's too soon to say.

The figures we're seeing either pre-date the referendum on June 23, or they reflect the lack of any immediate impact on household budgets.

There were some expectations that the poor winter figures for the Scottish economy would be followed by an upturn in the second half of this year, and that may be what we're now seeing. The gap in the rates of Scottish and UK unemployment has narrowed.

But there remain warning signs in the latest Scottish retail figures, continuing a long run of subdued consumer confidence. It can't always be the fault of the weather, can it?

The Scottish employment rate of 74.1% remains slightly below the UK average of 74.5%.

Across the UK as a whole, unemployment fell by 52,000 to 1.64 million over the quarter.

The ONS figures also showed that Scotland was outperforming the rest of the UK on female and youth employment and unemployment rates.

It follows a fall in unemployment in Scotland of 18,000 between March and May.

The Scottish government's employability minister, Jamie Hepburn, said the latest statistics showed that 65,000 more people are being employed in Scotland now than at the pre-recession high.

But he said there was "more that we can and must do" despite the "strong fundamentals" of the Scottish economy.

'Position of strength'

Mr Hepburn said: "As businesses face uncertainty during negotiations over our future relationship with the EU, we will ensure we work hard to protect Scotland's relationship with the EU, and strive to make the most of current and future opportunities in our economy."

The figures were also welcomed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell.

He said: "While we cannot be complacent as we enter a period of adjustment, today's figures show that we enter the EU negotiations from a position of strength.

"Our continued priority must still be to work closely with the Scottish government as 'team UK' to promote economic growth and prosperity."