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Scottish unemployment rate drops by 1.1% since last year to joint record low

The unemployment rate in Scotland is lower than that of the rest of the UK (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The unemployment rate in Scotland is lower than that of the rest of the UK (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The unemployment rate in Scotland has dropped by 1.1 percentage points in the past year, figures show.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found the unemployment rate was at 3.2% in Scotland – the joint lowest figure on record – with almost 90,000 people seeking work between April and July.

The rate has dropped this low on three occasions; between February and April and January and March this year, as well as between January and March 2019.

The unemployment rate in Scotland is lower than that of the rest of the UK (3.8%).

The rate was unchanged from the previous quarter, increasing by just 2,000, but decreased by 1.1 percentage points when compared with the same quarter last year.

Similarly, employment increased by 1.2 percentage points during the same period, with 73,000 more people in work.

The statistical body reported 75.4% employment between April and June, with around 2.7 million people working, a drop of 0.1 percentage points, equivalent to 25,000 people.

But despite the relatively positive news for Scotland, estimated wage growth has fallen behind that of the rest of the UK.

Median monthly income for payrolled employees in July was £2,118, an increase of 5.3% on the same period in the previous year, but behind the 6.6% rise seen in the UK.

Estimated wages, the ONS said, rose in Scotland by 12.8% between February 2020 – the last month before the start of the pandemic – and the most recent month, compared with 13.4% in the UK as a whole.

Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish economy and labour market are continuing to show resilience, although the employment rate has decreased slightly over the quarter, the unemployment rate was a joint record low in the Scottish series.

“Additionally, the employment rate for women in Scotland was the highest since the labour force survey estimates were first published in 1992.

“This is despite the serious challenges Scotland is facing as we recover from the pandemic, with the cost-of-living crisis, the continued impact of Brexit and the economic consequences of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine all impacting on the economy.

“The Scottish Government has added its voice to the call from business for measures related to energy prices, VAT reduction, staff shortages and handling business loans, direct support which falls within the reserved responsibilities of the UK Government.

“We are also delivering the ambitious National Strategy for Economic Transformation which is helping build an economy of secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs with our current powers.

“A key part of this strategy is providing people with the skills they need to gain new opportunities and ensure new and current businesses are supported in investing in innovative ideas that could lead to new industries and quality jobs across the country.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “Today’s labour market figures show positive signs for Scotland. Unemployment has fallen over the last year to a historic low and there are more people on the payroll.

“The best way to continue growing our economy in the long term is to get even more people into well-paid, highly skilled jobs as we know that people are better off in work than on benefits.

“However, we also know people are worried right now about the rising cost of living and that’s why we’re providing the most vulnerable households with an extra £1,200 of direct support through our £37 billion package of support, while continuing to help all households with their bills.

“Alongside this, the UK Government continues to drive forward investment in communities to create and support jobs, helping level up opportunity from our biggest towns and cities to our most remote villages.”