Scots unemployment at record low of 3.2%

The unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over in Scotland fell to a record low of 3.2% in the January to March quarter, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

That was 0.9 percentage points down on the previous quarter.

Across the UK, the unemployment rate for that age group was 3.7%.

The employment rate rose to 75.6% in Scotland, up 1.4 percentage points up on the previous quarter.

In Scotland, there were 2.682 million people aged 16 and over in employment between January and March this year, with 88,000 in that age group unemployed.

Employment minister Richard Lochhead said: “For January to March 2022, Scotland’s estimated employment rate rose over the quarter to 75.6% while the estimated unemployment rate fell to a record low of 3.2%.

“Separate HMRC early estimates show 2.42 million payrolled employees in Scotland in April 2022, 29,000 more than in February 2020, prior to the pandemic.

“While we continue to face economic challenges, with the rising cost of living, the negative effects of Brexit and the economic impacts of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Scottish Government remains committed to doing all we can to help our economy recover.

“By delivering on the actions of the national strategy for economic transformation we will build an economy of secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs.

“In 2022/23 up to £113 million has been allocated to employability services, including £60 million for No One Left Behind and additional investment in the parental employability support fund and Tackling Child Poverty.”

Stuart McIntyre of the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “In a number of ways, the Scottish labour market is back to its pre-pandemic levels of activity.

“Rates of employment, economic inactivity and unemployment are in line with – or slightly better than – where they were at the same point in 2019.

“The big challenge remains weak pay growth, and in turn the cost of living crisis facing families across the country.

“After we take account of rising inflation, average pay across the UK fell 1.2% over the past year.

“It is only when we include bonus payments that inflation adjusted pay grew over the past 12 months.

“Bonus payments are becoming an increasingly common feature of the job market at the moment as businesses across the economy compete for workers by offering joining bonuses, but what matters for living standards over the longer term is growth in regular pay.”