Higher costs add to pressures

Jobless figure rises as confidence falters

Andy WilloxUnemployment in Scotland increased by 20,000 between December and February to 171,000 (a rate of 6.2%), as companies faced twin pressures of faltering confidence and higher costs, such as the national living wage.

Employment in Scotland fell by 21,000 over the three months, and now stands at 2.61m.

UK unemployment rose by 21,000 to 1.7m (5.1%).

Andy Willox, FSB Scottish Policy Convenor, said: “These statistics should focus minds for those pounding pavements on the Holyrood campaign trail.

 “Our research shows Scottish small business confidence faltering. Firms are dealing with a raft of new challenges, including the National Living Wage and pension auto-enrolment deadlines.

 “While many parts of Scotland continue to do well, too many communities still suffer from the mistakes of the past, while some local economies face new challenges for which they seem unprepared.

“The need to develop stronger local businesses and robust local economies is at the heart of current FSB thinking in Scotland.  We need to get behind our army of small businesses and make it as easy as possible for Scottish firms to create jobs and drive local prosperity.”

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Grahame Smith said: “With increases in unemployment and economic inactivity driven by a significant fall in employment, today’s statistics provide further evidence of the significant slowdown in the Scottish economy over the past year.

“Over the past year, unemployment has increased and employment has fallen. Unemployment as measured by both rate and level is more than 50% higher than its trough in early 2008. The employment rate fell by 1% over the last quarter.

“It is difficult to find cause for optimism for a quick turnaround in the Scottish economy.”

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