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17 August 2014, 06:33
Average earnings in Scotland will not return to their pre-recession level until 2016 at the earliest, new analysis for the Scottish Government suggests.
While the country's economy has returned to the level it was at before the economic crisis hit, and the number of Scots in work reached a record high of 2,594,000 earlier this year, wages levels have not made the same progress.
Analysis to be published by the Scottish Government suggests that average earnings have fallen back to 2005 levels.
Training, Youth and Women's Employment Secretary Angela Constance said: "Despite the continued improvements in Scotland's economic performance, too many households still struggle to meet their bills with wages eroded and the cost of living increasing. Around half of working age adults and over half of children in poverty are in working households.''
Youth unemployment has fallen by 2.9% over the year, and is level with the UK rate, while the number of women in employment has reached a record level of 1,250,000 - 36,000 more than a year ago.
But Ms Constance said females still faced a number of challenges in the workplace, including greater job insecurity, higher levels of under-employment and pay inequality, with women paid on average 19% less than their male counterparts.
She added an increase in free childcare could help even more women back to work, saying the Scottish Government was "acting now to expand child care to 600 hours from this month for all three and four-year-olds, and the most vulnerable two-year-olds''.
She went on: "Affordable high quality childcare can help women back to work, and support our children, their parents and our economy.''
Ms Constance continued: "As the economy strengthens the Scottish Government is focusing on the outlook for growth and in particular the type of growth we want to promote to ensure that growth is sustainable, resilient and allows everyone to realise their potential.
"The Scottish Government is working to ensure that opportunities for economic success and the proceeds of such success are more equitably shared and that both employers and employees thrive through more progressive workplace policies.''
She added: "Progressive workplace policies can help improve firms' productivity and innovation, and aid sustainable growth. Well-rewarded and sustained employment is the best route out of poverty and the best way to tackle inequality.
"Employment and welfare legislation reserved to Westminster is ineffective in Scotland. Levels of underemployment and the impact of welfare reforms disproportionately affect women.
"While the Scottish economy has returned to pre-recession levels, our ambitions do not stop there. With the full powers of an independent nation we could do so much more to ensure that growth is shared more equally and to unlock the full potential of Scotland's women, young people and our economy.''