Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Scottish unemployment rate falls

queue outside a Jobcentre
Scotland's unemployment rate is lower than in the UK as a whole

The number of people unemployed in Scotland fell by 2,000 in the three months between August and October.

The unemployment rate now stands at 6.9%, with 187,000 people out of work.

In the UK as a whole unemployment increased by 21,000 to reach just under 2.5 million - the highest total since the mid-1980s.

The Scottish Government welcomed the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures and said they were a further indication of a fragile recovery.

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said: "Scotland's position on employment rates, economic activity, and unemployment rates has been better than the UK in each of the 30 months since May 2007.

"That demonstrates the substantial work done by the Scottish government to increase economic activity, support jobs and get people back to work through our economic recovery plan."

Claimants rise

The ONS figures showed that compared with the same quarter last year 52,000 more people were unemployed, which is an increase of 1.9% - the same rate of increase as in the UK as a whole.

In November alone the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 1,300 to 136,000, a rise of 42,400 on the same month last year.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said the drop in the headline unemployment rate added to the positive economic signs but admitted that was little comfort to anyone who had lost their job.

"We will have to roll up our sleeves in the New Year and work even harder to get people back into work," he said.

Mr Murphy also announced that 300 more jobs for young people and those who are long-term unemployed are to be created through the Future Jobs Fund.

The jobs will be in Aberdeenshire, Stranraer, the Highlands, South Ayrshire and West Lothian.

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