Both UK and Scottish governments have welcomed news that employment in Scotland is at the highest level since records began – but they disagree over what’s best for Scottish jobs and the economy: the union or independence.
Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show that total employment increased in Scotland by 63,000 over the year to reach 2,594,000 – the highest level since records began in 1992. 73.5 per cent of people are now in employment in Scotland.
Female employment has also reached a new record high with 1,250,000 women in Scotland in employment, an increase of 36,000 over the year.
The figures also show that Scotland’s youth unemployment rate has decreased by 2.9 percentage points over the year and now has a youth employment rate of 55.6%.
The overall employment level has now increased over the quarter for 18 consecutive monthly releases – the longest ever unbroken run of increasing quarterly employment.
Over the year the number of people unemployed fell by 21,000, with the unemployment rate now standing at 6.4 per cent. The number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance has fallen by 35,500 – or 27.6 per cent – over the last year.
Separately, the Scottish Government has today published its latest Quarterly National Accounts statistics for Scotland, which demonstrate the continued strength of the economy. Over the latest four quarters, total GDP including offshore activity has reached nearly £148 billion, and at around £27,700 per person is 10 per cent higher than the equivalent UK figure.
Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment Angela Constance said: “We know that Scotland’s economy has returned to pre-recession levels and these figures show that our recovery is continuing to gain momentum, with unemployment down and employment at its highest level ever.
“I am pleased to see that youth employment has increased and that fewer young people are now unemployed in Scotland compared to a year ago. It is so important that our young people have the chance to get a foothold in the labour market and we want to see this figure continue to decrease.
“That is why we have extended the Youth Employment Scotland Fund, which now helps employers seeking to recruit those aged 16 to 30. In particular this will help those most at risk of being cut off from the labour market such as young working mums, care leavers and disabled people.
“Our ambitions are greater than this – that’s why we are taking forward the commitments set out by the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce to reduce youth unemployment in Scotland by 40 per cent by 2020.
“Female employment continues to increase and now sits at the highest level since records began and the female unemployment rate is at its lowest since May-July 2009.
“This government will always do everything we can to ensure women have the same opportunities in the labour market as their male counterparts, and have access to quality sustained work in careers they choose.
“As part of our recovery we must ensure that everyone is able to benefit from a growing economy. For example, our transformational plans for childcare will not just be good for children, but also their parents, giving them greater opportunities to enter work or training.
“These figures show that Scotland has the economic potential to be an independent country. With the full powers of independence we could do more to get people into work and give employers access to the skills they need to grow their business, strengthening our economy and creating jobs.”
Mr Carmichael said: “Today’s figures show we have a new record high in overall employment. Over the last 12 months Scottish employment has increased by 63,000 and unemployment has fallen by 21,000. This shows that working together as part of the UK with its larger market, stronger and growing economy and stable currency is creating more jobs and better opportunities for Scotland.
“It is also good to see the number of people claiming Jobseekers allowance continues to fall. It is now at its lowest level since October 2008 and is 35,500 lower than one year ago.
“Each one of the figures today represents another person or household getting back into the labour market. It also represents the certainty, stability and security we are creating for businesses by being part of the UK. We will continue with our long term economic plan to ensure that these positive figures are reflected in communities across the length and breadth of Scotland and our business have the confidence to grow and employ more Scots.
The Minister made the comments as he visited Frolick, a Dundee based family run company that specialises in healthy alternatives to frozen desserts. Over the past few months the company has greatly expanded its range.
They have benefited from the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), an initiative which offers expert mentoring and financial support to people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, lone parents and people on sickness benefits who want to start up their own business. Since its launch in 2011, 3,300 businesses in Scotland have been established thanks to the NEA.
Mr Carmichael added: “It was great to visit this thriving family run business in Dundee. Across the country the New Enterprise Allowance is helping thousands of jobseeking Scots build a career and fulfil their ambitions. The great ideas of these entrepreneurs today may transform into successful Scottish companies which will be the major employers of tomorrow.”