Scotland needs another 110,000 jobs to return to the levels enjoyed before the financial crisis five years ago, a think tank has warned.

The employment rate is still well below what it was in 2008 and the slow recovery has left Scotland with a "jobs gap" far higher than in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, according to the Resolution Foundation.

The figures show how just much ground the economy north of the Border still has to make up to return to pre-recession levels.

It follows suggestions in recent months that the UK has finally returned to growth after years in which the economy flatlined.

Alex Hurrell, senior analyst at the Resolution Foundation, which aims to improve living standards for the estimated 15 million on low and middle incomes in the UK, said: "Unfortunately these figures show that the jobs recovery continues to be very difficult in Scotland and that there is a long way to go before the hole knocked in employment during the recession is repaired.

"Economic confidence seems to be on the rise in the UK and this is partly down to a welcome increase in the overall numbers of people in work. However this hasn't matched the rate of the increase in the adult population and the result has been that employment, measured as a proportion of people aged 16 and over, has fallen everywhere.

"There may be particular factors at work in nations or regions which help explain their individual performance - but one clear trend is that London is doing better than the rest of the country."

Labour's Iain Gray called for a comprehensive and joined up" economic strategy to create more jobs and investment.

He warned that the true picture of employment in Scotland could actually be worse.

"Let's not forget that while these figures show the employment gap, we also know that too many Scots, especially women, are stuck in part-time jobs and are underemployed," he added.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown MSP accused the Holyrood government of failing to make the best use of its powers to help cut unemployment.

"Sadly, the SNP has taken its eye off the ball through its obsession with the constitution rather than putting all its efforts into improving the daily lives of people across Scotland," he said.

The figures show the ­employment rate in Scotland has fallen by 2.6% since 2008, the equivalent, it says, of 110,000 jobs. Across the UK the organisation estimates the "job gap" to be around 963,000.

Despite growing economic confidence London is the only part of the country that has managed to close its gap, the think tank found.

There, the proportion of the adult population who are employed has almost returned to the levels seen in early 2008.

The foundation also says that while the number of people in work has risen in recent months, so has the UK population, so the proportion of people in jobs has actually fallen.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Statistics published last month showed Scotland is outperforming the UK - we have a higher employment rate, lower unemployment rate, lower inactivity rate and higher youth employment. Between March and May our employment rate rose to 71.9% while the UK rate fell by 0.1 percentage points.

"This is the result of growth in the service and manufacturing sectors, commitments to guarantee all 16-to-19 year-olds offers of a place in education, training or employment and making Scotland an attractive country to invest in."