Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 UK

Scottish unemployment increases to 208,000

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The Scottish jobless rate is lower than that in the UK

Unemployment in Scotland has risen by 6,000 in the three months to February, official figures have shown.

The number of unemployed people now stands at 208,000 - some 62,000 more than in the same period last year.

However, the Scottish unemployment rate is 7.8%, slightly lower than the UK rate of 8%.

The narrower "claimant count" - which measures adults claiming Jobseeker's Allowance - was 136,600 in March, the Office for National Statistics said.

That figure is a drop of 900 on February and is the second month in a row that the number of people receiving the allowance has fallen.

In the UK unemployment increased by 43,000 between December and February to 2.5 million, while those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 32,900 in March.

'Weak' recovery

The latest jobless figures came on the same day as data showed that the Scottish economy officially emerged from recession.

Its economy grew by 0.2% in the final three months of last year, bringing to an end five consecutive quarters of decline.

Commenting on the figures, Grahame Smith, general secretary of the STUC, said: "Whilst these statistics confirm that Scotland has left recession, they also confirm the STUC's view that the recovery is weak and likely to be prolonged."

Political priority at every level needs to be making it as easy as possible for small and micro businesses to thrive
Grahame Smith
STUC general secretary

He added: "Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that unemployment is continuing to rise and the STUC believes that the Scottish labour market will continue to face serious challenges for many months to come.

"With the economy in such a fragile state, it is essential that the correct decisions are taken following the general election."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for action for small firms.

Andy Willox, the FSB's policy convenor, said: "We know that small and micro businesses are the key driver of employment growth in the Scottish economy. We also know that the Scottish public sector is unlikely to be in a position to take more staff in the foreseeable future.

"Therefore, political priority at every level needs to be making it as easy as possible for small and micro businesses to thrive and retain staff if we want to reverse the current trend in unemployment."

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