The number of people on unemployment-related benefits across the north-east has continued to rise sharply, new figures show.
According to Department for Work and Pensions officials in Aberdeen, the “alternative claimant count” (ACC) for the Granite City rocketed to 9,394 last month, up 5,000, or 114%, on the same period a year ago.
Under the same measure, the register of job-seeking claimants in Aberdeenshire hit 6,504 people during April, up 3,460, or 114%, compared with a year ago.
Within the total figures, 18-24-year-old claimants in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – an area hit hard by a severe downturn in the North Sea oil and gas industry as well as the pandemic – were up by 112% to 1,562 and 106% to 662 respectively.
ACC is widely seen as a more accurate indicator of local labour market changes over time than claimant count figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Scotland’s figure for April was 205,296, up 83% year-on-year, with the figure for the Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey Westminster parliamentary constituency surging by 141% to 3,287.
Aberdeen Jobcentre operations manager Ruth Rothnie said: “We have a large focus on 16 to 24-year-olds.
“Through the Kickstart scheme, a variety of positions are being advertised in numerous sectors, with large and small employers getting involved.
“Employers have provided great feedback on the benefits these young people bring to their business.”
Ms Rothnie added: “The Job Entry Targeted Support and Job Finding Support initiatives are also proving popular, with a steady uptake on this provision, which offers advice and guidance on all aspects of job search.
“We are providing training both in the care and construction sectors, upskilling customers to enable them to transition into these industries. Other initiatives are planned for hospitality, security and warehousing.”
Scotland’s official unemployment total – based on the definition from the International Labour Organisation, an agency of the UN – rose by 1.3% to 116,000 16 to 64-year-olds out of work between January and March.
This was down by 3.7% on the previous quarter but still propped up by a huge swathe of the population remaining on furlough.
ONS said the Scottish jobless rate between January and March this year for those aged 16 and over was 4.3%, a 0.2% drop from the previous quarter.
This was lower than the UK-wide rate of 4.8% for those aged 16 and over.
The employment rate for those aged 16-64 in Scotland was 74.4%, a 0.7% rise on the previous quarter.
There were 2.560 million people aged 16-64 in employment north of the border between January and March.
A total of 1.6 million people across the UK were unemployed between January and March, down 121,000 from the previous three months, said the ONS.
And there were 32.5m people in work, up 84,000 on the previous three months and a sign of resilience in the face of lockdown.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Protecting and creating jobs continues to be my top priority.”
The Bank of England recently slashed its forecasts for unemployment over the year, now predicting the jobless rate will peak at 5.5%, down from the 7.75% previously forecast, thanks to a more rapid economic bounceback than had been expected in 2021.