Scotland business

Scotland's jobless total rises for third time in a row

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The number of people seeking work in Scotland has risen for the third time in a row, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the jobless total rose by 6,000 between October and December, to stand at 135,000.

UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million over the same period.

The Scottish unemployment rate is now 4.9%, slightly above the UK rate of 4.8%.

The number of people employed north of the border increased by 8,000 over the quarter to 2,611,000.

The employment rate is 73.6% - below the UK average of 74.6%.

In January Scotland's claimant count, including Universal Credit, was 76,400.

'Encouraging figures'

The Scottish government said Scotland's youth unemployment rate was at its lowest level since records began, while the nation continued to outperform the UK on female employment and inactivity rates.

Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn said the figures were "encouraging" and showed that Scotland's labour market remained "resilient".

He said: "We are working to build an economy where everyone can share in the benefits of economic growth.

"It is therefore encouraging to note this rise in the number of people in work alongside some positive statistics on female and youth employment, where we continue to lead the UK."

'Cautious optimism'

The UK government's Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "There is cause for some cautious optimism about the state of Scotland's labour market, with employment up and more women returning to the labour market.

"However, declining economic activity during the last 12 months, and the gap between the Scottish and UK labour markets, remains a concern.

"We have devolved a raft of new powers to the Scottish Parliament. It now needs to use those levers to strengthen the Scottish economy."

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said: "These figures underline the need to focus resources on those who are currently unemployed and recently unemployed; to enable them to become equipped with the skills that our businesses need right now.

"We are still detecting significant skills shortages across a range of sectors and, in these circumstances, Scotland's employment rate really ought to be closing the gap with the UK as a whole."

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