Unemployment up to 5.3%; Mundell urges action

The UK's Scottish Secretary David Mundell

The UK’s Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, urged the Scottish Government to use the economic levers under its control to “shape and strengthen” the Scots economy after the latest figures showed a rise in unemployment in Scotland.

Unemployment in Scotland increased by 14,000 in the August to October 2016 period and now stands at 145,000, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) in data released on Wednesday.

The ONS said the Scottish unemployment rate is now 5.3%, slightly above the rate of 4.8% for the whole of the UK.

The labour market statistics also showed employment in Scotland fell by 40,000 over the three months to October.

The number of those in employment in Scotland now stands at 2,592,000.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, said: “These statistics underline the importance of tomorrow’s draft budget from the Scottish Government.

“The UK government is building an economy that works for everyone across the UK.

“We are supporting jobs and growth by keeping business taxes low and investing in infrastructure.

“As a direct result of the UK government’s decisions last month, there will be City Deal for every city in Scotland, more than £820 million of extra funding for Scotland, and new support for digital infrastructure and research and development.

“But the Scottish Government now hold the main levers to shape and strengthen the economy.

“They need to use them to boost the prosperity of people in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government put a different gloss on the latest ONS statistics.

It said Scotland’s unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points over the year.

It said the latest labour market statistics showed that Scotland continues to outperform the UK on female and youth employment rates.

“The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points over the year to 5.3%, however, it rose over the quarter by 0.6 percentage points,” said the Scottish Government.

“Scotland has the second highest employment rate out of the four UK nations and we currently have 28,000 more people in employment than the pre-recession peak.”

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn said: “These figures show that the Scottish Labour Market is resilient in the face of notable economic headwinds.

“I’m encouraged to see that Scotland is continuing to outperform the rest of the UK on female and youth employment.

“While the unemployment rate fell over the year, it’s concerning to see a rise over the last quarter.

“We have the second highest employment rate out of the four UK nations, but it is clear that result of the EU referendum has created uncertainty and weakened economic progress.

“In recent months we have announced steps to invest an additional £100 million in capital projects in this financial year to help stimulate growth and support jobs, and we are establishing a new £500 million Scottish Growth Scheme to support in particular small and medium enterprises.

“We are taking action to support the resilience of the Scottish economy and remain determined to pursue every avenue to secure Scotland’s continued place in Europe and the stability, jobs and investment that come from being part of the world’s biggest single market.”