Scotland’s jobless total has risen, with the latest figures showing unemployment has increased by 18,000 in three months.
There were 170,000 people out of work, including those not eligible for benefits, in the period from June to August – with 6.1% of the workforce not having a job.
The rise in the jobless total in Scotland is in stark contrast with the UK as a whole, where unemployment fell to a seven-year low while a record number of people are in work.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed across the UK the number of people out of work dropped by 79,000 to 1.7 million for the same period – the lowest figure since the summer of 2008, giving a jobless rate of 5.4%.
As well as the rise in unemployment north of the border, there has also been a decrease in the number of Scots who are in work.
Employment in Scotland stood at 2,610,000 for the period June to August – a drop of 6,000 on the previous six months.
As a result of that, the employment rate has fallen to 73.7% – marginally ahead of the UK as a whole where the rate stands at 73.6%
The number of Scots who are out of work and claiming jobseeker’s allowance has also risen, increasing by 500 from August to stand at 71,000 in September.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “The figures released today show the challenges which remain to ensure households in every part of our country benefit from a growing economy.
“There can be no doubt there is still hard work to undertake to build on the UK Government’s long term economic plan which has tackled a record deficit and laid the foundations for a stronger and more stable economy.
“Across the UK there are now a near record number of vacancies. For individuals and families across Scotland we need to ensure they can see the UK and Scottish Governments working together and doing everything they can to help our businesses grow and ensure everyone who works hard have the opportunities they need to succeed.”
Meanwhile Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “While Scotland has now seen three years of continuous economic growth, and continues to exceed the UK in the total employment rate and in youth and female employment rates, today’s figures show that there remain serious challenges to economic recovery.”
While he said there had been continued investment in infrastructure from the Scottish Government this was being “threatened by the cuts the UK Government plans to implement”
Mr Swinney said: “The Scottish Government has put forward an alternative option for a UK-wide fiscal mandate, which would ensure the UK’s debt and deficit are put on a downward path while allowing up to an additional cumulative £150 billion of investment across the UK by 2019-20 – with around £12 billion in Scotland – compared to the UK Government’s current plans.
“Such investment would support continued economic growth and is in total contrast to the huge public spending reductions that have been set out by Westminster.”
He added: “Over the summer we launched a consultation on how services to help the unemployed would look when these are devolved to Scotland in 2017. The consultation closed last week, with ministers having undertaken many meetings across the country on the way forward, where a range of views were offered.
“One thing has been abundantly clear – we need a distinct, Scottish approach that is tailored to the needs of our people to make a real difference to people’s lives and replace the Work Programme which has failed to support those who need most help to get a job.
“We must maintain momentum and ensure that every power at our disposal is used to grow the economy, increase employment, lower unemployment and remove barriers to the jobs market.”