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Labour market statistics
Scotland’s employment rate is higher than the UK as a whole for the fifteenth consecutive monthly release of statistics, and the economic inactivity rate remains lower in Scotland than in the UK as a whole.
Scottish unemployment levels rose by 15,000 over the year, while UK unemployment rose by 179,000 over the same period.
In January 2012, the claimant count in Scotland decreased for the fifth consecutive month. The UK claimant count level has now been increasing for 11 months in a row. The level in Scotland fell by a further 200 to 141,200, whilst the rate remained unchanged at 5.3 per cent. The claimant count level increased UK-wide in January by 6,900, while the UK rate was also unchanged at 5.0 per cent.
In the October-December quarter, the unemployment level among 16-24 year-olds stood at 102,000. The employment rate for 16-24 year-olds in Scotland at 52.9 per cent is higher than the UK-wide figure of 50.2 per cent. It is important to note that in the disaggregated quarterly figures which cover the period July-September 2011, 35 per cent of young unemployed people in Scotland were also in full-time education, compared to a figure of 28 per cent UK-wide.
The October-December 2011 figures show that Scotland has a headline employment rate (for those aged 16 to 64) of 70.7 per cent, compared to 70.3 per cent in the UK as a whole.
The headline economic inactivity rate (16-64) in Scotland of 22.5 per cent compares to a UK inactivity rate of 23.1 per cent.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said:
"It is clear from these figures that we need further sustained action to support Scotland’s economic recovery – and this week’s report from the Moody’s ratings agency pinpointed the problem as the UK’s ‘materially weaker growth prospects over the next few years’. The Westminster Government has failed to come forward with the stimulus of increased capital spending to get growth and confidence back into the UK economy.
"That is why the Scottish Government delivered a budget for growth, passed last week by the Scottish Parliament, which boosts public sector capital investment, takes action to tackle unemployment and in particular youth unemployment, and enhances economic security.
"The Scottish Government is using every lever currently available to us to secure new investment and create and safeguard jobs, in the face of severe cuts from Westminster.
"We still have, for the fifteenth consecutive month of statistics, a higher employment rate than the UK as a whole, and we also have a lower economic inactivity rate, and lower unemployment rate compared to most other nations and regions of the UK.
"The fall in the claimant count for the fifth month in a row is obviously welcome, but the figures as a whole show that much more needs to be done to improve employment opportunities.
"We cannot allow the recovery we are building in Scotland to be blown off course by the UK Government’s ill-judged economic policy.
"We are investing an additional £30 million to support youth employment, on top of £2 billion already invested in opportunities for young people. With a record 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships this year and in each year of this Parliament, and the 'Opportunities for All' programme to guarantee a training or learning opportunity for every 16-19 year-old, the Scottish Government has outlined our commitment to ensuring that our young people have the life chances they deserve – and we are doing more with our dedicated Minister for Youth Employment.
"We can only maximise Scotland’s potential to secure new investment and jobs if we have access to all the levers of economic growth with independence.
"In the meantime, we urge the Westminster government to implement a ‘Plan MacB’ approach for the UK economy – increasing capital investment, securing consumer confidence, and ensuring that businesses have access to finance to create the conditions necessary for recovery."