SCOTLAND’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3.3%, according to official figures – lower than the UK rate of 3.9%.

Employment in Scotland was up by 0.3%, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the total number of people employed in Scotland rising to a record 2,688,000 between December last year and February 2019, up from 2,671,000 in the previous period.

That represents an employment rate of 75.6% across the country.

A total of 93,000 working-age people were unemployed during the period, down from 101,000 between September and November last year.

Across the UK, the unemployment rate was down by 0.1% on the previous quarter.

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Despite the huge and continued challenges of Brexit, the Scottish economy and jobs market continues to strengthen.

Labour market outcomes for young people in Scotland once again outperform the UK. Scotland’s employment rate for women rose over the quarter to 71.8%, the same rate as for the UK as a whole.

“The employment rate for young people in Scotland rose to 59.5% over the year, higher than the UK rate of 55.1%.

“Scotland’s unemployment rate for women fell to 2.8%, for men to 3.8%, and for young people to 7.2% – all rates lower than in the UK.

“While Scotland’s economy and jobs market continues to grow, the UK Government’s Brexit plans, in whatever form, will cost jobs, make people poorer and damage our


“It is essential the extension granted by the EU is used constructively and not wasted.

“The ongoing talks over EU exit must include the devolved administrations, and for any deal agreed by the UK Parliament to be put to a second referendum.

“As a responsible government we will also continue our work to prepare for all outcomes as best we can.”

Dr Stuart McIntyre, of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Scotland’s headline labour market indicators have arguably never looked better. That said, wage growth is relatively weak, with many workers seeing little or no wage growth.

“Ordinarily, with headline labour market numbers this impressive, we’d expect to see much more rapid wage growth.

“More generally, concerns remain about the quality of work available, in-work poverty and how fragile the experience of work is for some.”

Tracy Black, director of the employers’ organisation CBI Scotland, added: “Even amid Brexit uncertainty and Scotland’s ongoing struggle to attract people and skills, the Scottish labour market continues to move in the right direction.”