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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 18:24 GMT
Scots unemployment at record low
factory workers
Unemployment is still falling in spite of problems for industry
Official figures for unemployment in Scotland have shown the total down by more than a thousand in the three months to December.

The traditional measure of those unemployed and claiming benefit was at its lowest level since 1975.

Unemployment across the UK is also falling.

But economic growth remains sluggish in Scotland, just 0.3% in the third quarter of last year.

National trend

The Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling was encouraged by the latest figures.

He said: "There are 4,000 more Scots in employment compared with a year ago... showing that our policies are making a real difference to people's lives."

The labour market remains very healthy
Jonathan Loynes
Capital Economics
The total number of people unemployed, according to the government's preferred measure, was 147,000.

This was 10,000 lower than the figure at the same point one year earlier.

The UK total was also down, by 21,000, to 1.46 million.

In spite of the falling rate of unemployment, official statistics indicated that average earnings have been growing at the slightly lower pace of 3.4%.

Market healthy

Reaction from economic analysts has been positive.

Geoffrey Dicks of Royal Bank of Scotland Financial Markets said: "The unemployment/ earnings combination remains benign in the extreme."

Jonathan Loynes at Capital Economics agreed: "The labour market remains very healthy."

The major concern for the UK economy is in the industrial sector.

Howard Archer of Global Insight said: "The only really disappointing element of the labour market data... is the continuing decline in manufacturing employment."

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