The number of people in work in Scotland has risen but remains below the UK average, new figures indicate.

A total of 2,637,000 people in Scotland were in employment for the three months to the end of February, giving an employment rate of 74.2%, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

This is an increase of 11,000 people – 0.5 percentage points – from the previous quarter.

The UK employment rate in the same period was 74.5% but this was down 0.5 percentage points on the previous quarter.

A total of 111,000 people in Scotland were unemployed in the three months ending in February, giving an unemployment rate of 4.0%, down by 11,000 from September to November 2023.

READ MORE: Scottish unemployment rate at 3.2 per cent in year to June

More than a fifth of working-age people in Scotland – 777,000 – were classed as economically inactive between December and February, giving an economic inactivity rate of 22.6%, a marginal drop of 0.2 percentage points from the previous three months.

The Herald: Wellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllanWellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan (Image: PA)

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan said: “The increase of 12,000 in the number of payrolled employees over the year to March 2024 in Scotland is welcome.

“It is also encouraging to note that the median monthly pay for payrolled employees has grown at a faster rate over the year in Scotland than in the UK as a whole – at 6.3% compared with 5.6%.

“However, there are ongoing challenges facing the UK economy, including inflationary pressures and the continuing impacts of Brexit.

READ MORE: Cautious optimism amid easing in labour market pressures

“The Scottish Government remains committed to using the limited powers of devolution to support more people into work through employability and skills support – and our forthcoming Green Industrial Strategy will support businesses and investors to realise the era-defining economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero and create well-paid green jobs here.”

Ms McAllan added that independence would enable Scotland to “boost its workforce and tackle recruitment challenges such as those currently being faced by the construction sector”.