Employment levels are at their highest since records began in 1992, with 2,585,000 people over 16 now employed in Scotland, according to labour market figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) covering the period January – March 2014.
After increasing by 29,000 over the quarter, the employment level has now increased for 15 consecutive monthly releases. Over the quarter the unemployment level fell by 18,000. The unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points compared to the previous quarter, and is now at 6.4 per cent – below the UK rate of 6.8 per cent.
Scotland has improved across all headline labour market indicators over the last quarter and has again outperformed the UK with a lower unemployment rate, higher employment rate and lower inactivity rate.
Both the rise in the employment rate and the fall in the unemployment rate of 0.7 percentage points in Scotland over the quarter has been stronger than in the UK as a whole. Over the year, whilst the employment rate in the UK has increased by 1.3 percentage points, in Scotland the employment rate increased by 1.7 percentage points.
There are now 38,000 more women in employment than a year ago. At 69.4%, the female employment rate in Scotland is a full 1.7 percentage points higher than the UK’s.
In addition the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowances has now fallen every month for 18 consecutive months and is at its lowest level since December 2008.
Speaking ahead of today’s bi-annual meeting with the Scottish Trades Union Congress, First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“Today’s employment figures mark a further improvement on last month’s record figures and demonstrate the Scottish Government’s policy of investing in infrastructure to boost the economy is making significant progress with employment levels at a record high.
“Female employment has increased by 38,000 over the last year and it is estimated that Scotland has one of the highest rates of female employment in the European Union.
“Scotland continues to outperform the UK across employment, unemployment and inactivity rates which shows that even with the limited powers over the economy at our disposal we are improving our country’s economic health.
“This government has listened to employers, to industry and to individuals and working together we are strengthening our economy. Today I am meeting with the STUC to discuss what more we can do together to boost Scotland’s economy and the Deputy First Minister is working with industry at the National Construction summit demonstrating the strong commitment of this Government to work with business and to create further economic opportunities.”
Ahead of a visit to meet staff and apprentices at Systal Technology Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment Angela Constance said:
“Whilst these latest figures are to be welcomed, challenges remain. Although Scotland continues to have a better youth employment rate than the UK as a whole, there is always more to do. Youth unemployment increased by 5,000 over the last year and I am determined to tackle the challenges young people face through my role as Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment.
“Everyone aged between 16 and 19 is currently guaranteed an offer of a place in training or education through Opportunities for All and some of the good results we have seen in Scotland come from providing help and support to young people within four months, not waiting until people have been out of work for nearly a year, helping to reduce the numbers of young people claiming benefits for over 6 months.
“With responsibility for all employment policy we could expand that early intervention – quickly matching labour force skills with labour market needs.
“There is more that we can do and with the full powers of independence we could transform support to get people into work and give employers access to the skills they need to grow their business.”