Scotland’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in the last quarter, according to latest figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the rate for people aged 16 and over between April and June was 4.3%, a 0.1% drop on the previous quarter.
This was below the UK-wide unemployment rate of 4.7% for over-16s.
There was also a slight drop in Scotland’s employment rate, which fell to 74.2% for those aged 16 to 64, a 0.1% fall on the previous three months.
There were 2.538 million people aged 16 to 64 in employment between April and June while 117,000 in that age range were unemployed.
Scotland’s Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “For April-June 2021, Scotland’s employment rate estimate decreased slightly over the quarter to 74.2% and the unemployment rate estimate decreased slightly over the quarter to 4.3%.
“Separate HMRC early estimates, also published this morning, show the number of payrolled employees has increased over the month by 17,000 to 2.4 million in July 2021, however this is 28,000 fewer payrolled employees compared with February 2020, which reflects our gradual ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic.
“We are carefully monitoring any impact on employment, particularly as the Job Retention Scheme continues to unwind, and taking action where necessary.
“The Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support employees and employers, but the UK Government must extend furlough for those that still need it.
“As we continue to move out of lockdown, we are pushing forward with an ambitious agenda of recovery and economic transformation that builds on the £3.7 billion in Scottish Government support to business since the start of the pandemic.”
Dr Stuart McIntyre, head of research at the Fraser of Allander Institute, said the recovery is still in its early stages.
He said: “Today’s data continue to point in the right direction with improvements in key labour market indicators as public health restrictions have eased.
“Be in no doubt that there is still a considerable way to go in our economic recovery from the pandemic, particularly with the end of the furlough support scheme at the end of next month looming large on the horizon.
“Over 141,000 jobs in Scotland remained furloughed at the end of June this year, and few believe that all of these jobs will continue when the furlough scheme ends next month.
“Payroll employment continues to recover in the latest data, but remains below March 2020 levels – and with important variations across Scotland.
“South and west Scotland have almost regained March 2020 payroll levels, while the North East continues to lag significantly behind as it wrestles with the twin challenges of the pandemic and declines in activity in the North Sea.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “There are some encouraging signs in the figures published today, but we know there’s still a long way to go to get people back into good jobs, businesses back on their feet and our economy prospering again.
“As the success of the UK Government-funded vaccine rollout has allowed all parts of the UK to remove the most restrictive lockdown measures, the UK Government remains focused on recovery from the pandemic.
“Our furlough scheme is continuing to support 141,500 Scottish jobs and our Plan for Jobs is helping people back to work, while our Kickstart initiative is creating high-quality jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.”
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