SCOTLAND’S unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level on record, new figures show.

Between January and March this year, just 3.2% of those aged 16 and older were unemployed, according to quarterly data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is 0.9 percentage points down on the previous quarter and 0.5 percentage points below the equivalent UK figure for the first quarter, which was 3.7%.

The employment rate for those aged 16 to 64 years rose to 75.6% north of the border, which was 1.4 percentage points up on the previous quarter.

Scotland’s unemployment rate last hit a record low of 3.2% for those aged 16 and over in January to March 2019.

However, the ONS also laid bare the scale of the mounting cost-of-living crisis, revealing that regular pay excluding bonuses dropped by 2.9% across the UK in March when taking Consumer Prices Index inflation into account – the biggest fall since November 2011.

In the three months to February, real regular pay was 2% lower, the steepest decline since 2013. It comes in spite of another pick up – of 4.2% – in regular average pay in the quarter.

The figures were released as the governor of the Bank of England warned there is a “very real income shock” coming from energy prices and “apocalyptic” food prices.

The National: Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey issued a dire warning Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey issued a dire warning

READ MORE: Boost for independent Scotland's Nato case as non-nuke countries fast-tracked

Employment minister Richard Lochhead said: “For January to March 2022, Scotland’s estimated employment rate rose over the quarter to 75.6% while the estimated unemployment rate fell to a record low of 3.2%.

“Separate HMRC early estimates show 2.42 million payrolled employees in Scotland in April 2022, 29,000 more than in February 2020, prior to the pandemic.

“While we continue to face economic challenges, with the rising cost of living, the negative effects of Brexit and the economic impacts of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Scottish Government remains committed to doing all we can to help our economy recover."

He added: “By delivering on the actions of the national strategy for economic transformation we will build an economy of secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs.

“In 2022/23 up to £113m has been allocated to employability services, including £60m for No One Left Behind and additional investment in the parental employability support fund and Tackling Child Poverty.”

The minister added that the Scottish Government is also continuing to invest in employability and training to support young people through the Young Person’s Guarantee and those who face barriers to employment through its national employability service Fair Start Scotland.