Scots unemployment remains lower than UK

The estimated unemployment rate for people aged 16 years and over in Scotland was 4% in April to June 2023, below the UK rate of 4.2%, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

Scotland’s unemployment rate was 0.2 percentage points up on December 2019 to February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and up 0.9 percentage points over the quarter.

The ONS said 109,000 people aged 16 and over were out of work in Scotland over April to June period – up by 24,000 on the first three months of the year.

The ONS said there were 2,652,000 Scots in work, down by 31,000 on the January to March figures.

Scotland’s employment rate now stands at 74.2% – lower than the 75.7% of the UK.

The rate of economic inactivity in Scotland was 22.6%, up 0.4%-points on the previous three months.

Neil Gray, the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Economy Secretary, said the rise in the unemployment rate “reflects the challenges facing the economy amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, compounded by still high inflation and interest rates”.

Gray said that industries including hospitality and agriculture were still “facing recruitment challenges” and as a result an “urgent reassessment of UK Government immigration policy is necessary to increase access to the international labour and skills that Scotland needs for our economy and communities to prosper …

“With full powers over migration, Scotland could boost its workforce and tackle recruitment challenges, many of which have been caused by the end of free movement and the Brexit imposed on Scotland by the UK Government.”

Stuart McIntyre of the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde said: “The latest data show a jump in the unemployment rate in Scotland of 0.9%-points to 4% over the three months to June 2023. This is accompanied by a 1.1%-point decline in the employment rate.

“While this is a relatively large increase in the unemployment rate over a short period of time, it’s too soon to say whether this is part of a broader trend of the labour market weakening. By historic standards, the unemployment rate remains low.

“Increases in economic inactivity, particularly among those who are inactive because of poor health, remains a major concern. The number of people of working age in Scotland who are economically inactive is up over 4.5% on the same period in 2019.

“In large part, this is driven by people experiencing temporary and long-term sickness. This underlines the importance of the health and wellbeing of the population for Scotland’s economy, and in turn, the urgent need for government to bring forward measures to tackle this rising trend of economic inactivity.”