SCOTLAND'S unemployment rate has continued to drop, but is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its labour market data on Tuesday, showing the unemployment rate between July and September was 4.1%, a drop of 0.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.

However, the unemployment rate remained 0.3 percentage points above the level for December 2019 to February 2020.

The employment rate also rose compared with the previous quarter by 0.6 percentage points to 74.8%, but remains 0.6 points lower than before the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Latest figures from HMRC, however, show an increase in the number of people employed last month compared with the first month of the lockdown.

Some 2.39 million employees were recorded in Scotland in October by the tax agency, a 0.1% rise compared with February 2020.

The number of people claiming benefits remained substantially higher than before the pandemic, with Universal Credit claimants for the principal reason of unemployment being 44,000 higher last month than in March last year.

However, this figure dropped by 2100 from the previous month.

Employment minister Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish Government continues to do all it can to support employees and employers and is investing more than £1 billion in 2021/22 to create jobs and ensure people have the skills needed to help seize Scotland’s potential and deliver a greater, greener, fairer and sustainable economy.”