A MIXED picture on joblessness in Scotland has been created, with ministers hailing a drop in the number of those out of work as a major financial institution has announced it is to shed a further 135 jobs.
The number of unemployed people north of the Border fell by 14,000 between September and November, with a further 23,000 year-on-year drop in youth unemployment recorded.
It brings Scotland's unemployment level to 207,000, with the rate now at 7.8% – slightly higher than the UK figure of 7.7%.
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Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "These figures show unemployment in Scotland has continued to fall for the second monthly release.
"We have lower youth unemployment, higher youth employment and lower youth inactivity than the UK. This month's release sees the largest annual drop in the youth unemployment rate since the data series began in 2006."
The latest picture emerged on the day Lloyds TSB announced a major management restructure and job losses.
Meanwhile, fast-food chain McDonald's said it was to create 200 jobs by the end of the year.
At Lloyds, a total of 135 roles are to go, including 91 at the Bank of Scotland's retail division and 44 from the group's wealth, commercial banking and IT operations.
A further 70 posts are also being transferred to other firms under Tupe agreements.
The cuts form part of a UK-wide cull in which a total of 940 jobs will go – taking the job toll at the group since the rescue of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) to 38,000.
It is estimated the move will save the banking group up to £1.5 billion in 2014.
Lloyds said it plans to use natural turnover and redeployment wherever possible to avoid compulsory redundancies.
The staff being transferred to other agencies include cleaners who are being transferred to services firm Mitie and members of the cash payments team who are being transferred to G4S.
Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, described the overall labour market as very weak given the latest figures also revealed the numbers in work fell by 24,000 over the quarter and increased by 1000 over the year to stand at 2,466,000.
Mr Smith said: "For the second month in a row, the reported fall in unemployment has been exceeded by the fall in employment and economic activity. It is no cause for celebration if people are leaving the labour force altogether rather than looking actively for work.
"These statistics show a very weak labour market which continues to be characterised by significant falls in full-time permanent positions, rising under-employment and worrying increases in inactivity."
Labour's Ken Macintosh said: "Taken together with the rise in the number of people classed as economically inactive, this suggests the apparent fall in joblessness is actually largely due to people giving up looking for work and leaving the labour market."
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore described the figures as encouraging, particularly as claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 4400 over the year.
He said: "Growth measures we took in the Autumn Statement benefit Scotland by enabling it to invest in science, roads and education, and allowing it to compete in the global race as part of the UK."