Jobless total rises by 6,000 in Scotland
Jackie Baillie said the data showed Scotland is “lagging behind the UK in virtually every area of economic performance”, while inequality continues to grow
Jobcentre - credit: PA
The number of out of work Scots rose by 6,000 in the last three months, according to the latest official figures.
Office of National Statistics figures show the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the jobless total rose for the third year in a row to 135,000 in Scotland between October and December, while UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million over the same period.
But Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution Derek Mackay pointed to figures showing output per hour worked in Scotland grew by 3.5 per cent in 2015, compared to a UK figure of 0.9 per cent as “further evidence of Scotland’s economic strength”.
Output per hour worked is now 9.4 per cent higher in real terms than in 2007.
Unemployment in Scotland sits at 4.9 per cent, compared to 4.8 per cent across the UK, while the Scottish employment rate is 73.6 per cent, below the UK average of 74.6 per cent.
The number of people employed in Scotland increased by 8,000 to 2,611,000.
Scottish Labour economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie said the data showed Scotland is “lagging behind the UK in virtually every area of economic performance”, while inequality continues to grow.
The FSB said Scotland has been tracking behind the rest of the UK for some time and called for action from Holyrood and Westminster to get local economies moving.
Derek Mackay said: “These figures show that Scotland’s productivity performance has grown around four times faster than the UK, providing further evidence of Scotland’s economic strength. Scotland is now matching UK levels of productivity.
“Output per hour worked in Scotland has grown 3.5 per cent in 2015, compared to a UK figure of 0.9 per cent, and is 9.4 per cent higher than in 2007 before the start of the recession. This is very welcome news and - through our commitment in our Economic Strategy to supporting innovation, increasing skills and improving our infrastructure – we will continue to work to improve this further.
“The EU referendum result has led to some business uncertainty and we will continue to do what we can to address this, including taking forward our £500m Scottish Growth Scheme, by investing in our infrastructure plan and by supporting our universities and research base.”
But Jackie Baillie warned the SNP’s approach was “not working”.
She said: “SNP ministers in Edinburgh need to get their focus back on growing our economy rather than planning a divisive second independence referendum which will just create more uncertainty for business. It’s time to take that threat off the table.
“These figures come the day after a new report found that wealth inequality has grown on the SNP’s watch.
“Labour wants the SNP government to commission a study into economic inactivity in Scotland. It is one of the biggest challenges facing our labour market, but Nationalist ministers would prefer to ignore it.”
The UK government's Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “There is cause for some cautious optimism about the state of Scotland's labour market, with employment up and more women returning to the labour market.
“However, declining economic activity during the last 12 months, and the gap between the Scottish and UK labour markets, remains a concern.
“We have devolved a raft of new powers to the Scottish Parliament. It now needs to use those levers to strengthen the Scottish economy.”
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