Scotland business

Scottish jobless figures show first rise in months

Woman walking past jobcentre
Image caption The number of Scots looking for work over the past few months went up by 1,000

Unemployment figures worsened in Scotland for the first time since last autumn, according to the latest official statistics.

The number of people seeking work in Scotland was up by 1,000 between April to June, reaching 209,000.

Scots claiming Jobseekers Allowance last month rose more sharply - up by 2,600 to nearly 144,700.

Those on unemployment benefit across the whole of the UK saw an unexpected leap of 37,100.

This was the biggest increase in more than two years.

Almost all the UK's net gain in employment in April to June was in Scotland, with the latest survey showing 24,000 more Scots in jobs, out of 25,000 for the whole of the UK.

That leaves the employment rate and the unemployment rate in a slightly better position in Scotland than for the rest of the UK.

Employment is 71.9% of working age adults, and unemployment is at 7.7%, while the UK rate has risen in the most recent figures to 7.9%.

The official figures also show pay rates across Britain rose at 2.6% last month, down a tenth of one percent on the previous month, and half the official rate of inflation announced on Tuesday.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: "The first increase in unemployment since autumn last year is a reminder of the challenging economic circumstances we face.

"The UK government's priority is to continue to support the economy by reducing the deficit and putting in place measures to encourage growth in the private sector.

"We are creating a new model of economic growth, driven by investment and exports, and more evenly balanced across the UK and sectors."

Mr Moore added: "The issue is one both Westminster and Holyrood must tackle together.

"Scottish ministers have control over many of the levers to promote long-term sustainable growth in Scotland and they must use them to create opportunities for Scots."

First Minister Alex Salmond said the recession had been both shorter and shallower in Scotland compared with the UK as a whole.

"The action taken by the Scottish government has had a positive impact," he said.

"We accelerated capital investment at the height of the recession and over the year to March workforce construction jobs were up by 19,000, or 11.6%, in Scotland - compared to a fall of 5,200, or 0.2%, across the UK

"Our no compulsory redundancy policy for staff under our responsibility is helping to boost consumer confidence, and our commitment to the social wage - including the council tax freeze, no tuition fees, free prescriptions, and free concessionary travel - is giving Scots households maximum protection at a time when other bills and inflation are on a sharply rising curve."

Andy Willox, Scottish policy convener of the Federation of Small Businesses, said unemployment and the fear of unemployment would continue to hit consumer and business confidence.

He added: "But we can help our small businesses break this damaging cycle and create the jobs we need.

"We can use the tax regime to make it as affordable as possible for small businesses to take on staff; we can make sure they can access the finance they need; and we can put job creation and retention at the heart of the business support network."

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