Scotland business

Scotland's jobless total falls by record 40,000

Woman entering a job centre Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Scottish jobless rate is now 0.5% lower than the UK as a whole

Unemployment in Scotland fell by 40,000 between June and August to stand at 151,000, according to official figures.

It was the biggest quarterly fall in Scottish unemployment since records began.

The Scottish jobless rate is now 5.5%, which is below the rate of 6% for the whole of the UK.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also showed employment increased by 35,000 to stand at 2,611,000.

UK unemployment fell by 154,000 in the quarter to August to just under two million.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in Scotland rose slightly by 300 from August to 91,100 in September. The figure is down by 30,500 on a year ago.

Meanwhile, separate figures showed that the Scottish economy expanded by 0.9% during the second quarter of 2014, and grew by 2.6% on an annual basis.

'Very welcome news'

The UK government's Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, said the two sets of figures showed that Scotland was "moving in the right direction".

He added: "The biggest quarterly fall in Scottish unemployment since records began and confirmation that Scotland's economy has now grown for two consecutive years is very welcome news.

"This year we have seen new record high levels of employment and today marks another record high, with more Scottish women in employment than ever before.

"Challenges remain, as the rise in the number of Scots claiming Jobseeker's Allowance shows."

Scottish Youth and Women's Employment Secretary Angela Constance also welcomed the figures.

'Making progress'

She said: "Today's figures are excellent news for the Scottish economy and show that we are continuing to make progress in our efforts to tackle unemployment.

"We now have the highest jobs figures in history, the highest female employment in history, the lowest level of unemployment since the end of 2008, lower unemployment than the rest of the UK and higher employment and lower inactivity.

"And I am particularly pleased to see female employment in Scotland reaching a record high."

The Federation of Small Businesses said the latest figures were "great news" for Scotland's small business community.

Scottish policy convener Andy Willox added: "It is important to remember that every growing Scottish business will have had a role to play in the fall in joblessness and the growth in production.

"Despite these impressive figures, there's a huge job to do to rehabilitate many local Scottish economies."

Fair Work Convention

In a separate development, First Minister Alex Salmond announced the setting up of a Fair Work Convention, as recommended by a labour market review the Scottish government commissioned ahead of the independence referendum.

The convention is intended to bring unions, employers, the public sector and government together to discuss employment issues.

Mr Salmond said: "One of the aims of the Fair Work Convention will be to exert greater Scottish influence over the minimum wage. It will also champion other aspects of good industrial relations, including payment of the living wage.

"It will be a powerful advocate of the partnership approach which characterises industrial relations in Scotland at their best - it will highlight the fact that business productivity goes hand in hand with proper pay for employees."

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, enthusiastically welcomed the announcement.

He said: "The establishment of a Scottish Fair Work Convention signals a new approach to fair pay and industrial relations in Scotland.

"The approach stands in stark contrast to the policies of the UK government."

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