Union leaders demanded action from ministers as they said 38,000 Scots were facing their second Christmas on the dole.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said the number of people out of work for a year or more had more had risen by 50% from last December and the number of young people unemployed for more than 12 months had quadrupled since May 2010.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: "With nearly 40,000 people facing a second Christmas on the dole – over 8000 of them young people – it is time for meaningful action by Government to deal with the crisis of worklessness.

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"Since last Christmas, 50% more Scots find themselves in the position of having been out of work for 12 months or more. This is miserable for them and disastrous for the long-term health of the economy."

Mr Smith added: "We desperately need a new approach and a reversal of the decision to cut resources for employment support."

Official figures earlier this month revealed that Scotland has had its biggest quarterly fall in unemployment for more than four years. Between August and October the number of people classed as unemployed fell 19,000 to 204,000.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The unemployment rate in Scotland is once again lower than that of the UK as a whole and is the lowest of all UK nations, but more still needs to be done, particularly in light of the fall in employment.

"The Scottish Government is doing all it can to expand our economy by channelling funding into infrastructure projects."