Unemployment in Scotland continues to fall
The unemployment rate in Scotland has dropped to 4.8%, according to new figures released by the Scottish government.
The data, collated in Scotland’s Annual Population Survey 2016, reveals a 1% drop in unemployment from 2015, and a marginally lower rate of than the rest of the United Kingdom (4.9%).
In total, the number of Scots in work aged 16-64 increased to 2,579,700 – the highest level in recorded history. As a result, the total employment rate for those aged 16-64 stands at 72.9%, a decrease of 0.1% from 2015.
The youth unemployment rate (aged 16-24) currently stands at 12%, a figure 2.3% lower than the corresponding 2015 number.
The most substantial change over the past year involved older workers, with the percentage of over 65 year olds currently employed, nearly doubling to 9.1% from 2015’s figure of 5.2%.
The figures will provide respite for the SNP, who have recently been forced to fight back against suggestions that they were leading the country towards a recession.
Last month, figures revealed that Scottish economic output shrunk 0.2% in the final quarter of 2016. In contrast, the UK economy grew at a rate of 0.7% for the equivalent time period. Should a consecutive quarter of contraction follow, the Scottish economy would enter into its first recession since 2012.
The SNP’s 2016 manifesto pledged further progress in tackling unemployment, including a 40% cut in youth unemployment by 2021 and £6million of additional funding for the Community Jobs Scotland scheme.
Reacting to the employment figures, Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Scottish Government’s Employability and Training Minister 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.”
Conservative MP David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet prior to the dissolution of parliament, was more circumspect in his analysis. He welcomed the fall in unemployment but stressing the need for further economic vigilance.
He said: “The UK Government is supporting the Scottish economy with over £1bn new investment through the autumn statement and spring budget, on top of UK-wide investment in science, research and development and connectivity.
“The Scottish Government now need to act urgently to secure the Scottish economy and help more people into work.”
He added: “Rather than obsess about the constitution, Scottish ministers need to focus all their efforts on strengthening the economy and backing business to create jobs for people across Scotland.”