Labour stats defy slow growth

UK unemployment falls, with record low in Scotland

JobCentreUnemployment in the UK fell by 27,000 to1.34 million over the three months to the end of February with the rate now lower than at any time since the end of 1975.

Scotland’s unemployment rate at 3.3% for the three months to February is the lowest on record and below the UK as a whole at 3.9%.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless total in Scotland fell by 8,000 from the previous quarter to 93,000.

The number of people employed in Scotland is close to the recent record high at 2,688,000, although, Scotland’s employment rate, at 75.6%, remains below the UK’s rate at 76.1%.

However, monthly claimant count numbers are worsening over the month of March, as there are 104,900 people in Scotland claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and out-of-work Universal Credit (seasonally adjusted); this is up 2,300 on the month of February (provisional) and 19,900 up on the year before.

The number of people in work across the UK was virtually unchanged at a record high of 32.7 million, with a jump of 179,000. The figure has risen by 457,000 over the past year.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “It is great news that unemployment in Scotland is at a record low. Coupled with the rise in employment, there is a lot to be positive about.

“Scotland’s two governments are working together to strengthen our economy and create jobs, with our growth deal programme reaping rewards across the nation. The UK Government’s investment in growth deals is now more than £1.35 billion, showing our huge commitment to growing Scotland’s job sector and economy.”

Scottish Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “While Scotland’s economy and job market continues to grow, the UK government’s Brexit plans, in whatever form, will cost jobs, make people poorer and damage our society.

“It is essential the extension granted by the EU is used constructively and not wasted.”

Dr Stuart McIntyre of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Scotland’s headline labour market indicators have arguably never looked better. The unemployment rate at 3.3% is now at its lowest rate since 1992, and the employment rate at 75.6% is near its record high of 75.8%.

“That said, wage growth is relatively weak, with many workers seeing little or no wage growth. Ordinarily with headline labour market numbers this impressive, we’d expect to see much more rapid wage growth. More generally concerns remain about the quality of work available, in work poverty, and how fragile the experience of work is for some.”


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