The number of Scots in work has fallen by 38,000 over three months, new figures have shown.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed in the period from January to March 2024 a total of 2,613,000 Scots were in employment.

As well as being down 38,000 on the previous quarter, the total is 46,000 lower than it was in January to March 2023.

According to the figures, Scotland’s employment rate is now 73.1% – lower than the rate for the UK as a whole which is 74.5%.

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While the number of people in work has fallen the figures also showed the number of Scots who are unemployed is higher than it was a year ago.

There were 120,000 people in Scotland who were out of work in January to March this year – and while this was 5,000 lower than the previous quarter, it was 28,000 higher than in the first three months of 2023.

The unemployment rate in Scotland is now 4.4%, according to the latest figures, slightly above the UK rate of 4.3% Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said the figures reflected the “ongoing challenges facing our economy, including the cost-of-living crisis”, adding that was why the Scottish Government was investing more than £5 billion to “grow and transform Scotland’s economic landscape”.

Ms Forbes, the new Deputy First Minister, added: “Scotland is open for business and the Scottish Government is committed to working hand-in-hand with business to use the limited powers of devolution to help more people into work through employability and skills support.”

She stressed “the economic opportunities for Scotland are huge” as she added that separate figures from HM Revenue and Customs showed there were 2.45 million payrolled employees in Scotland in April 2024 – with this 6,000 higher than a year ago.

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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “We’ve made good progress as wages are rising faster than inflation and payroll numbers in Scotland have increased since the start of 2024.

“We are also putting more money in people’s pockets by halving inflation, cutting taxes and boosting the national living wage.”

Mr Jack continued: “Getting more people into employment is a priority. Our £2.5 billion back-to-work measures are transforming lives and, with direct UK Government investment in Scotland now standing at more than £3 billion, we are creating jobs and opportunities right across the UK.”