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19,000 fall in jobless total

Scottish unemployment cut to record low

Scotland’s unemployment rate fell by 19,000 to a record low of 3.8% over the last quarter, down 0.7 percentage points.

This represents a decrease over the year of 1.6 percentage points and means Scotland’s unemployment rate is below that of the four UK nations.

The employment rate increased by 0.7 percentage points over the quarter to 74.1%, and remains the second highest out of the four UK nations. The inactivity rate decreased over the quarter to 22.9%.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “These latest figures show our labour market remains resilient and robust with unemployment now at a record low.

“Our employment rate is also rising, which is good news, and means 25,000 more people are in employment compared to the last quarter.

“When considered alongside the fact that last week’s GDP stats show Scotland’s growth rate over the last quarter to be four times that of the UK, this is further evidence of the strength of the Scottish economy.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce welcomed the news.  However, it says there are fewer people in employment and more people economically inactive in Scotland than there were a year ago, highlighting the continuing challenges facing the Scottish economy. 

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is extremely welcome that Scotland’s unemployment rate has fallen to just 3.8% in the three months to May.  Whilst this is an outstanding achievement and compares very favourably to the rate of 4.5% across the UK as a whole, it is worth taking a look at some of the numbers behind the headline figure. 

“Compared to this time last year, there are now 6,000 fewer people in employment in Scotland; whilst 65,000 more people are economically inactive.  These numbers highlight the continuing challenge facing the Scottish economy at a time when businesses are seeking staff with the right skills to help them to succeed and grow.

“Uncertainties remain over the position of EU workers in businesses right across Scotland, and many businesses continue to report skills shortages and difficulties in being able to find the talents they need to bring to their workforce. 

“That is why government must continue to focus on providing support for upskilling and reskilling people who are unemployed or in work, because Scottish business cannot afford to have rising economic inactivity.

“As Scotland seeks to internationalise our trade, we need skills in the likes of ecommerce, yet there is no formal university degree in this discipline, nor is there yet a government strategy that comprehends and embraces it.”

Colin Borland, FSB’s head of devolved nations, said: “Unemployment in Scotland is now very low indeed. Overall this is great news for firms and families.  

“However some Scottish businesses are also reporting rising skills and labour shortages. Therefore – as Brexit negotiations continue – it is even more important that no matter when they arrived, European nationals who work for or run businesses in Scotland must be allowed to stay. 

“Further, official figures show that one in eight of those in work in Scotland are classified as self-employed. As yesterday’s Taylor review suggested, we need to give real help to those that have genuinely set-up on their own. In addition, the UK government needs to carefully tackle the thorny issue of false self-employment.”

Comment: Job figures disguise changing work patterns 

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