Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 12:06 UK

Scottish unemployment up 41,000

Unemployment benefit claimants went up by 3,500 in one month

The number of people unemployed in Scotland rose by 41,000 in the latest quarter to 176,000.

The government's figures for the three months to April showed the Scottish jobless rate stands at 6.6%, below the UK average of 7.2%.

Other figures showed the number of people out of work and claiming benefit went up by 3,500 in May to 125,300.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy described the figures as a blow which reflected the global economic problems.

He said: "The UK Government will do everything possible to support jobs in the economy and to help people who have lost their jobs get back into work."

Manufacturing hit

For the Scottish Government, the Enterprise Minister, Jim Mather, said the latest statistics showed the importance of action to keep people in work or help workers regain employment.

However, he said there were some signs for optimism: "The 0.2% decline in economic inactivity in Scotland compared to a 0.2% increase UK-wide is at least a welcome indicator as it shows that people are remaining within the labour market system."

The figures showed that manufacturing industries have been particularly hard hit with 12,000 jobs lost in this sector in year to the end of March.

The area of business services, transport and finance also showed a big drop in the number of workers with 35,000 losing their jobs in the same period.

At the same time, construction jobs have actually increased by 2,000 or 1.4%.

Job competition

The latest jobless figures come as research reveals that almost 300 people are chasing each job in some fields of employment.

Scotland also has more people competing for each vacancy than the national average - with nine applying for each job advertised at Jobcentre Plus.

The figures released by the Conservatives showed that lower-skilled occupations have as many as 22 people chasing every vacancy, compared with eight in the managerial and professional ranks.

Across the UK, seven people on average applied for each job that was available in April.

In the same month, 146 people applied for each labourer job in the construction industry in Scotland, according to the statistics.

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