Employment rate in Scotland drops as calls for extended leave multiply

Rishi Sunak cannot afford to wait any longer to extend his leave beyond April, the Labor Party warned after the release of new figures showing unemployment in the UK has reached 1.74 million.

Scotland’s unemployment rate fell slightly between October and December to 4.5%, down 0.1% from the previous quarter, according to the Office of National Statistics.

But the statistics do not take into account the retention program that supports wages in locked-down jobs that the Chancellor says will end in April.

According to the figures, 2.637 million people aged 16 and over were employed in Scotland, while 123,000 were unemployed.

The employment rate among 16- to 64-year-olds was 73.7% between October and December last year, down 0.3% from the previous quarter.

The Scottish figure contrasted with the UK unemployment rate which reached 5.1%, up 0.4 points from the previous three months.

Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Scottish Minister for Business, said: ‘These figures reflect some of the challenges faced in the labor market to date, but do not reflect the full impact of the coronavirus or the employment outlook. “

“We have repeatedly called on the UK government to extend the job retention program for as long as necessary – which will be beyond the current April end date.”

Labor shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP said UK figures revealed the full extent of Rishi Sunak’s jobs crisis.

She added: “We are already in the worst economic crisis of any major economy, there are now 1.74 million people out of work, and forecasts suggest that another million people will lose their jobs in the months to come. to come. “

“The Chancellor should learn from the mistakes he made last year, when his last minute extension to the leave regime came too late to avoid record layoffs. Britain simply cannot afford to wait any longer for this government to act.

Rebecca McDonald, Senior Economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Unemployment is high and millions of families already rely on universal credit to keep their heads above water. That number will only increase as holidays are canceled and unemployment peaks later this year. “

She added: ‘The recovery from last year will be uneven and the reduction in the weekly £ 20 increase in universal credit just as unemployment is about to peak would plunge into the hundreds of thousands. people in poverty. “

“The plan to extend the £ 20 lifeline for just 6 months risks undermining the path to recovery – the opposite of caution – and we need the Chancellor to think about it ahead of the budget.”