The rate of unemployment in the UK has risen, though it fell slightly in Scotland.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its figures for the three months up to March 2023, showing an unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent for the UK as a whole, up 0.1% on the figures to December 2022.

In Scotland the rate of unemployment fell by 0.2% but employment also declined by 1.2% thanks to a 1.4% rise in those becoming 'economincally inactive'.

That is defined as people aged between 16 and 64 not in employment who have not been seeking work within the last 4 weeks and/or are unable to start work within the next 2 weeks.

The unemployment rate for Scotland stands at 3.1%, below the UK average, but the employment rate of 75.3% stands below the average for the country as a whole.

That is because the economic activity rate stands at 22.2%, while for the UK as a whole the figure is 21%.

Between December and February the rate of unemployment was at a record low of 3%, with the latest figures for January to March bringing a slight uptick.

For the latest figures the unemployment rate for men – 3% – is the lowest since records began in 1993, while the same figure for women is 3.2%.

In total just under 2.6 million people are in work across Scotland.

The highest employment rate estimates in the UK were in both the South East and South West (78.8%) and the lowest was in Wales (71.5%).

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The largest increase in the employment rate compared with the same period last year was in the North East, up by 2.7 percentage points, with Wales seeing the largest decrease of 2.6 percentage points.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “Employment and unemployment both rose again in the first three months of 2023, driven in particular by men.

“This means the number of those neither working nor looking for work continues to fall, although the number of people not working due to long-term sickness rose again, to a new record.

“However, the number of people on employers’ payrolls fell in April for the first time in over two years, though this is an early estimate that could be revised later.

“Despite continued growth in pay, people’s average earnings are still being outstripped by rising prices.

“The number of days lost to strikes rose again in March, with education and health making up four-fifths of the total this month.”

The Herald: Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray during a visit to sustainable coffee roaster Dear Green, in

The Scottish Government's wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray said:“The continued low unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over across Scotland, including a record low unemployment rate for men aged 16 and over are welcome. We are working to create more high-quality jobs and increasing the number of employees earning at least the real Living Wage.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting more people into work – including parents, disabled people and those with health and caring responsibilities – through employability and skills support, high-quality early learning and school age childcare provision, as well as improving access to flexible working. Recent ONS data shows that our target to increase the employment rate of disabled people to 50% by 2023 has been met a year early with 50.7% reported to be in work in 2022.

“However, with certain industries still facing recruitment challenges an urgent rethink of UK Government immigration policy is needed to enable increased access to the international labour and skills that Scotland needs for our economy and communities to flourish.

“With devolved powers on migration, Scotland could boost its workforce and tackle the recruitment challenges, many of which have been caused by the end of free movement and the hard Brexit imposed on Scotland by the UK Government.”