Unemployment Total Up By 19,000

Scotland has seen its jobless total rise by 19,000 in the first three months of this year while unemployment across the UK has fallen.

The number of people north of the border who are not in work - including those not eligible for benefits -  rose to 168,000 over the period January to March, official figures have revealed.

That is in contrast to the UK as a whole, where unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.83 million.

The number of Scots in employment fell, dropping by 3,000 over the three months to stand at 2,622,000 - although this is still 42,000 more than the same time last year.

The jobless rate in Scotland is now at 6%, above the 5.5% rate for the UK as a whole.

But the number of Scots who are out of work and claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 1,100 between March and April, to a total of 77,500.

While unemployment in Scotland has fallen by about 70,000 - nearly 30% - since its peak during the recession in 2010, new Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "Today's figures are a stark reminder of the difficult economic situation we have come through and the work which remains to ensure our economic recovery works for everybody and every part of our country.''

He said the Conservative government had a "track record of taking the difficult decisions needed to rebuild and rebalance the economy'' which had "helped 185,000 more people in Scotland move into work over the past five years and has seen the number of people claiming benefit fall to its lowest level since 2008''.

Mr Mundell added: "Both the UK and Scottish Government agree job creation is absolutely crucial and I hope we can work together on this issue, and many more, in the months and years ahead for the benefit of people in our country.''

Improvements in both youth unemployment and the number of women in work were highlighted by the Scottish Government.

The proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who are out of work is now 13.8% while more women than ever are in work, with participation rates now at 76.6%

Fair Work Secretary Roseanna Cunningham  said: "I am very pleased indeed to see such a strong performance in our youth employment and unemployment rates, adding further weight to the range of activity the Scottish Government is undertaking to help young people into jobs.

"From ensuring colleges are increasingly focused on employment outcomes and economic growth, guaranteeing 30,000 Modern Apprenticeship (MA) opportunities every year by 2020 and modernising our system of vocational training, we are doing everything possible to ensure our young people are work ready.

"Today's figures also show that we are continuing to make excellent progress in creating a workforce that properly reflects our society with a record high in female labour market participation.

"A record high in economic activity is also hugely encouraging when compared to the rest of the UK.''

She added: "While there has been a slight increase in unemployment this quarter, this will be accounted for in part by falling levels of economic inactivity, which is at an all-time low, as people join the labour market and start looking for work. Unemployment has also fallen compared to the same time last year.

"However, now that the Westminster landscape is clear, the time is also right to remind ourselves that Scotland still does not possess the key levers of job creation including powers over taxation and welfare. Nonetheless, with the powers at our disposal, we will continue to focus on making further progress.''

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