Scotland's jobless total falls by 15,000

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Unemployment in Scotland fell by 15,000 over the winter to stand at 123,000, according to official figures.

The jobless rate dropped by 0.5% to 4.5% in the three months to February, while the rate for the UK as a whole was unchanged at 4.7%.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also showed that employment north of the border fell by 8,000 to reach 2,596,000.

It now stands at 73.4% - below the UK average of 74.6%.

The number of adults under 65 counted as economically inactive rose by 18,000 over the quarter to 786,000.

The claimant count rose by 2,300 in March to 77,000.

Meanwhile, average weekly earnings, including bonuses, increased by 2.3% - the same as in the year to January.

On Tuesday, data showed inflation was running at 2.3%, above the Bank of England's 2% target.

The labour market figures come a week after new statistics showed that Scottish economic output contracted by 0.2% in the final quarter of last year.

Jobs market 'resilient'

Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn said: "Despite economic challenges these latest figures show Scotland's labour market remains resilient with unemployment falling and our female employment rates and youth unemployment rates outperforming the UK.

"While we are doing all we can to support employment, clearly the biggest threat to Scotland's labour market continues to be a hard Brexit, which threatens to cost our economy up to £11bn a year from 2030, and cost the country 80,000 jobs over a decade."

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said Scotland was "suffering from an SNP slowdown".

He added: "Growth is now in decline, and job creators across Scotland are ringing the alarm bells.

"Threatening us with a second referendum and making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK will only drive away jobs and investment.

Image source, PA

Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the increase in economic inactivity and the fall in the number of people in work was "a worrying sign of the underlying problems in Scotland's economy".

She added: "The picture on high streets and in communities across Scotland is clear - the SNP is not doing enough to create high quality, well paid jobs.

"Labour has been calling for months for a review of economic inactivity in Scotland - these figures show why this is so important."

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Grahame Smith said: "Headline falls in unemployment are often held up to be a positive news story.

"Unfortunately the focus on this measure masks the underlying weakness of the economy.

"Unemployment may be falling but inactivity is rising, up by 59,000 across the year.

"Too many jobs are precarious and the number of those in part-time work but needing more hours remains high."

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