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Slight wage growth as jobless tally falls again

Unemployment continued to fall, dropping across the UK by 55,000 to 1.36 million, with the jobless rate at 4%.

The unemployment rate remains at its lowest level for 43 years.

The number of people in work rose by 3,000, taking the total employment level to 32.397 million.

Wage growth figures show earnings (including bonuses) rising very slightly faster than expectations, creeping up by 2.6% in the three months to July.

Scotland’s unemployment rate also fell over the quarter by 6,000 to 4.1% but employment also fell by 9,000.

Scottish Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn said: “While these results show a very slight decrease in employment, comparing these figures against historical trends shows Scotland’s economy and jobs market remains strong despite the continued challenges facing our economy as a result of Brexit uncertainty.”

Scotland Secretary David Mundell said: “The latest employment figures show that we cannot afford to be complacent. Over the year, Scotland’s performance is worsening, with employment falling and unemployment increasing. It is important that the Scottish Government uses its extensive powers and works with us to create the right conditions to grow Scotland’s economy and boost prosperity.” 

The monthly claimant count numbers worsened in August, with 93,400 people in Scotland claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and out-of-work Universal Credit (seasonally adjusted); this is up 1,100 on the month of July (provisional) and 13,300 up on the year before. 

Over the year, Scotland’s performance is weakning: unemployment has increased by 7,000 to 113,000. Scotland is only one of four countries and regions of the UK experiencing a worsening position over the last 12 months – the other being South East, the North West and East Midlands.

Scottish Labour’s Economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP said: While a fall in unemployment is welcome, the drop in employment once again points to the significant issues Scotland’s economy faces under the SNP. It is disappointing to note that inactivity rates remain persistently high.”

Commenting on the UK picture, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:The continued drop in (UK) unemployment and strong employment levels are further evidence that the UK jobs market remains a bright spot, with firms continuing to hire despite significant economic uncertainty. 

“However, the robust headline data masks several areas of concern. While there was a welcome increase in earnings growth, the gap between pay and price growth remains insufficient to convert into an appreciable pick-up in consumer spending. 

“Sustaining meaningful real wage growth is likely to remain challenging amid subdued productivity and the escalating burden of upfront costs on businesses.

“The number of job vacancies in the UK remains at an alarmingly high level, further evidence of persistent skills shortages.”



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