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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK

UK: Scotland

Unemployment at 23-year low

The number of people looking for work fell again

The number of people out of work and claiming benefit in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level for 23 years.

The seasonally-adjusted number of people claiming benefit fell by 1,500 in August to 126,100.

The unemployment rate now stands at 5.2 per cent, the lowest figure since 1976.

Throughout the UK, unemployment is at its lowest level for 19 years. The top-line figure fell by 22,300 to just over 1.2m.

It is the sixth month in a row that the UK jobless total has dropped. The Office for National Statistics says that unemployment is still on a downwards trend.

Government 'delivering'

The latest figures were welcomed by the Scottish Secretary John Reid.

Dr Reid said the new 23-year record low proved that the government was delivering a comprehensive range of policies to increase employment opportunities and enhance work incentives.

He said: "The continuing fall in unemployment in Scotland is good news.

"Despite the fall in unemployment to a new 23-year low, the effort to create more jobs remains a top priority.

He added: "The New Deal continues to provide support for the young and long-term unemployed to improve their skills and experience and help them return to work."

The figures were also welcomed by CBI Scotland but their reaction was tempered with a warning against complacency.

Director Iain McMillan said that while the fear of recession expressed by some had not materialised, the high value of the pound was still causing problems.

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