SCOTLAND’s employment rate has improved with the easing of lockdown restrictions, according to the latest official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who are working increased by 0.2 percentage point to 74.1% between May and July.
The unemployment rate also fell slightly, by 0.1 point to 4.3%, in the second quarter.
Britain’s employment rate was higher over the same period, up 0.5 points from the previous three months to 75.2%, but its unemployment rate was also higher, at 4.6%.
There were 2.53 million adults of working age in employment in Scotland, while 117,000 people aged 16 to 64 were unemployed.
The UK government said the figures showed “encouraging signs” of economic recovery.
However, the Scottish government, which has said independence is necessary to shape the recovery, has been more cautious, stressing that payroll figures are still depressed.
SNP Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: âFirst separate estimates from HMRC, also released this morning, show 9,000 more paid employees in August than in July 2021.
âHowever, this is 25,000 fewer salaried employees compared to February 2020, reflecting our ongoing gradual economic recovery after the pandemic.
âThe Scottish Government will continue to do everything possible to support employees and employers and we are closely monitoring any employment impact as the job retention program rolls out at the end of this month.
âThe leave plan has provided critical support to businesses and workers throughout the pandemic and is still needed as we move forward in the recovery.
‘We have repeatedly called on the UK government to ensure that the leave stays in place for as long as needed, but if it is removed the UK government needs to clarify as soon as possible the additional aid that will be put in place for support those hardest hit. by the pandemic. ”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: ‘Today’s labor market figures show encouraging signs and as we recover from the pandemic we will continue to do all we can to get people back to work, to support businesses and see the economy flourish again.
âThroughout the crisis the leave program alone has supported over 900,000 Scottish jobs and by the end of July this year that number had fallen to 116,000.
âPeople are returning to work and our Jobs Plan facilitates this process, while our Kickstart initiative creates opportunities for young people.
âThe unprecedented success of the UK government-funded vaccine rollout allows us to move past restrictive lockdowns. ”
In a coded dig into the SNP’s desire for Indyref2 by the end of 2023, he added: “The UK government remains focused on recovery from the pandemic.”