Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 15:16 UK

Jobless rate rises by two thirds

Unemployment benefit claimants went up by 3,000 in one month

Unemployment in Scotland has risen by more than two thirds in the past year, according to official figures.

Government statistics for the three months to May revealed the Scottish jobless total was 179,000, a rise of 68.9% on the same period in 2008.

The number of people seeking work north of the border has increased by 73,000.

The figures suggested that unemployment in Scotland was climbing faster than in the UK as a whole, which saw a rise of 46.3% during those 12 months.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the annual rise was the fastest since the International Labour Organisation's method of collecting the data was adopted in 1992.

An ONS spokesman said it was not possible to make a comparison with earlier years when the information was gathered in a different way.

Claiming benefit

He also pointed out that the sharp rise in Scotland's jobless rate started from a record low of 4% in the period from March to May 2008.

The latest figures show that Scottish unemployment stood at 6.7% in the three months to May, below the UK average of 7.6%.

The figure was 35,000 higher than in the previous quarter.

Other statistics suggested that the number of people out of work and claiming benefit increased by 3,000 in June to 128,100.

There are now 54,300 more people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance than there were in the same month last year.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said the statistics reflected the ongoing global economic difficulties.

picture of Daniel Byers
I graduated last September and I've worked for just seven weeks since then
Daniel Byers

He said: "The British Government is making every effort to support those who have lost their jobs so the newly unemployed don't get stuck on benefits for years as happened during previous recessions."

Scottish Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said there was no doubt that businesses and households were going through tough times, but that Scotland was faring better than the UK in some respects.

"Scotland maintains a higher employment rate and a lower unemployment rate compared with the UK and many other advanced economies," he said.

The Scottish Chamber of Commerce warned that the situation would get worse before it got better.

The chamber's chief executive, Liz Cameron, said: "It is vital that we look to the future and plan to retain the skills within our economy that will help businesses to emerge from the recession in a stronger and more competitive position."

Daniel Byers, who has been looking for a permanent job in IT for 10 months, said he was finding it difficult.

"I graduated last September and I've worked for just seven weeks since then," he said.

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