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Employment in Scotland reaches record level despite increase in jobless total

Employment in Scotland has reached a record level despite an increase in the jobless total, new figures show.

The number of people in work rose for the 17th consecutive month to stand at 2,587,000 for the period March to May, with 76,000 more in employment than at this time last year.

But at the same time, unemployment - which includes those who are out of work and not eligible for benefits - rose by 13,000 from the previous quarter to 192,000.

Scotland's unemployment rate is now higher than that for the UK as a whole, at 6.9% north of the border compared to 6.5%, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

However the employment rate in Scotland is 73.3%, which is better than the UK rate of 73.1%.

The proportion of women in work is also higher north of the border, with a female employment rate of 69.7% compared to 68.1% across the whole of the UK.

In Scotland a record number of 1,249,000 women are now in work.

Meanwhile, the number of Scots who are out of work and claiming jobseeker's allowance fell to 96,000 in June, a drop of 4,000 from the previous month.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "We have seen positive developments over the year as a whole with 76,000 more Scots in employment and 13,000 fewer in unemployment.

"In June alone, the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 4,000 and is now 35,500 lower compared to one year ago. Claimant count is now below 100,000 and at its lowest level since December 2008."

But he added: "Today's news reminds us we need to continue creating the right conditions to get people into jobs. While it is disappointing to see unemployment rise at any time, the news comes against a backdrop of record overall employment, female employment and record private sector employment. The number of economically active people in Scotland is rising and the number of Scots claiming unemployment has now fallen for 16 consecutive months.

"This Government is making the right choices for a stable, growing economy and the jobs that come with it - those are the best choices for Scotland and the people who live here."

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the statistics show employment has "reached a new record in Scotland".

He said: "As the economy recovers more people are moving from inactivity into the labour market to look for employment. With this boost to economic activity, it is not surprising that both employment and unemployment have risen over the quarter - albeit unemployment is still down over the year.

"With the full powers of independence we could do more to get people into work, ensure everyone in Scotland is able to benefit from our national wealth and give employers access to the skills they need to grow their business, strengthening our economy and creating jobs."

Angela Constance, the Secretary for Training, Youth and Women's Employment, said: "It is encouraging that female employment continues to increase markedly with a higher employment rate than the rest of the UK.

"Although we continue to do better than the UK in terms of employment rates amongst young people and 90% of school leavers are in positive destinations, our youth unemployment rate remains too high."

Labour claimed women are bearing the brunt of the rise in the jobless total - female unemployment grew by about 11,000 over the quarter - and urged the Scottish Government to do more.

Deputy finance spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: "With the economy slowly growing, we see the rest of the UK benefiting from a drop in unemployment, particularly among women, but in Scotland we appear to be making slower progress.

"It would seem that the choices being made by the SNP Government are disproportionately impacting on women who are more likely to be working in the public sector or relying on insecure jobs.

"While we welcome the increase in employment, the SNP can't hide behind population growth and they need to face up to the decisions they are making which result in more women being out of work."

She added: "Every one of these figures represents a family or a person having to deal with less money coming into the home and Scottish women will be asking why they are paying the price for the SNP's decisions.

"The SNP no longer have any hiding place - they have failed to protect Scottish women from unemployment at a time when it is improving in the rest of the UK and now they have run out of alibis and people to blame."

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Grahame Smith called on both the UK and Scottish governments to "rethink their increasingly complacent views on the state of the Scottish labour market".

He said unemployment is "stubbornly high" at three percentage points above its pre-recession level, and added: "While it may be technically true to argue that the employment level in Scotland is at a 'record high', the employment rate is still well below its peak of 2008.

"There is no new reliable Scottish wages data but experience across the UK as a whole suggests that Scottish workers are continuing to be hit hard by the ongoing and unprecedented collapse in real wages.

"The recovery may be increasingly embedded but the majority of Scotland's workers are not feeling the benefits."

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the rise in unemployment highlights the need to put "a stronger practical plan in place to ensure that the growth and skill needs of business are being met by the aspirations and relevant skills of those individuals who are unemployed".

She added: "It is clear that we must revisit the support environment to enable more females to enter and remain in the job market, together with an up-skilling and re-skilling plan, as a matter of real urgency."

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