Employment Rate Hits Record High

The number of Scots in work has reached a new high, with a record 2,585,000 people across the country now in employment.

The total, which covers the period January to March this year, is the highest since records began in 1992.

Employment is up by 29,000 over the quarter and is 67,000 higher than the same time last year, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed.

The employment rate in Scotland continued to be above that for the UK as a whole, with 73.5% of the population in work north of the border, compared to 72.7%.

At the same time as employment rose, the number of Scots who are out of work fell.

There were 178,000 people unemployed in the period January to March, a drop of 18,000 over the quarter and 21,000 lower than the first three months of last year.

Across the UK as a whole, employment also reached a record high, with more than 30.4 million people now in work.

Scotland has a lower jobless rate than the rest of the UK, with this now at 6.4% north of the border compared to 6.8%.

As well as the fall in overall unemployment there was a drop in the number of Scots who are out of work and claiming jobseeker's allowance.

This stood at 103,000 last month - the lowest for more than six years - with the total down by 2,000 from March and 33,000 less than April last year.

Both First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael welcomed the new record high in employment.

Mr Salmond said: "Today's employment figures mark a further improvement on last month's record figures and demonstrate the Scottish Government's policy of investing in infrastructure to boost the economy is making significant progress with employment levels at a record high.''

The number of women in employment is now 1,238,000 - 38,000 higher than the first three months of 2013.

Mr Salmond said it is "estimated that Scotland has one of the highest rates of female employment in the European Union''.

He added: "Scotland continues to outperform the UK across employment, unemployment and inactivity rates, which shows that even with the limited powers over the economy at our disposal, we are improving our country's economic health.''

Meanwhile, Mr Carmichael insisted the figures show Scotland is "doing well as part of the UK''.

The Scottish Secretary said: "In the first quarter of 2014, unemployment in Scotland fell by 18,000 and employment rose by 29,000. It is also very good to see the number of Scots claiming jobseeker's allowance has now fallen for 18 straight months and is at a six-and-a-half-year low.

"Being part of the large UK single market gives us stability and certainty and helps create jobs and opportunities. We now have a record number of Scots in work, wages rising, inflation falling and the highest employment rate of all nations in the UK.

"As our economy recovers and businesses are becoming more confident it is good to see they are employing more and more Scots.''