The latest employment figures have provided a little seasonal cheer. Between August and September, the number of people unemployed in Scotland fell by 7,000 to 196,000; meanwhile, the number in employment rose again to a new total of 2,546,000. That means that there are now 83,000 more people in work than the same period last year. Across the UK as whole, the jobless total also fell. It was down by 99,000 to 2.39 million bringing it down to its lowest level for four and a half years.
Scotland’s Finance Secretary, John Swinney, described the figures as “another positive sign that employment in Scotland continues to increase and that Scotland’s economic recovery is ongoing. Scotland,” he stressed, “has a higher employment rate, lower unemployment rate and lower inactivity rate than England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Consistent growth in employment shows that the policies of the Scottish Government to create jobs and boost the economy are making progress.”
The Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael added that every new job created in Scotland “represents someone getting back into work and is to be welcomed. Today’s figures reinforce how well Scotland is doing as part of the UK and they are good news for people and families across the country.”
The statistics were particularly good when it came to the number of women in employment. That has reached a 21-year high at 1,233,000 and was the highest figure since the series began in 1992. This was welcomed by Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC. But he also sounded a cautionary note by saying that “no one should underestimate the very significant challenge that remains in returning both the employment and unemployment rates to pre-recession levels. It is also important to note that today’s statistics do not include any new information on the quality of jobs created or indeed the performance of real wages in Scotland which of course continue to decline at UK level”