THE unemployment rate in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level since current records began, continuing a long-term trend that began at the start of the decade.

The latest official statistic for August to October showed the jobless rate in Scotland was down 0.4 percentage points to 3.7%, compared to 4.1% for the UK as a whole.

The number of people out of work in Scotland in the quarter was down 13,000 to 100,000.

Across the UK, the numbers were up by 20,000 to 1.38m.

The employment rate was also slightly down in Scotland over the three months to October, down 0.1 points to 75%, down around 1000 people to 2.63m.

Employment in the UK rose, with an extra 79,000 people in work taking the total to 32.48m, an increase in the employment rate of 0.2 points to 75.7%.

The inactivity rate in Scotland was 22.1%, up 0.4 points on the quarter, while in the UK it was 0.2 points down to 21% over the same period.

The figures were in line with a long-term decline in Scotland’s unemployment rate since 2011/12, when it reached almost 9% in the aftermath of the financial crash.

SNP business Minister Jamie Hepburn said the numbers showed the Scottish economy and jobs market remained strong “despite the continued challenges of Brexit”.

He said: “This is our lowest unemployment rate on record.

“Although overall employment fell very slightly over the quarter, on employment for women and young people, we continue to outperform the UK with a rate of 71.3% for women, higher than the UK rate of 71.2%, and 58.8% for young people, higher than the UK rate of 55.9%.

"Compared to the UK we also have lower rates of unemployment for both women and young people.

“Brexit remains the biggest threat to Scotland’s prosperity and these statistics reinforce the urgent need to ensure the positive work we are doing to strengthen our economy is not undone."

Tory Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “I welcome the news that fewer people are unemployed in Scotland.

"However, it is of great concern that economic activity keeps falling and is below that of the UK.

“I urge the Scottish Government to focus on using its extensive powers and work with the UK Government on ensuring our economy thrives rather than making Scotland the highest taxed place in the UK.”

The Office of National Statistics also announced it was suspending its claimant count date from UK and Regional Statistical Bulletins because of Universal Credit.

The previous measure was based solely on Jobseekers' Allowance claimants, whereas UC includes a "broader span of claimants" required to seek work, and the two sets of numbers were no longer comparable.