Rising unemployment and a fall in the number of people north of the border “paint a worrying picture” Scottish Secretary David Mundell said yesterday.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show Scotland’s jobless total rose by 11,000 in the three months to November, to 139,000.
But a year-on-year comparison tells a different story, with 12,000 fewer people out of work in the latest quarter.
Scotland’s unemployment rate (5.1%) continued to eclipse the UK-wide figure (4.8%) during the three months to November.
The percentage of the working-age population in employment north of the border was slightly lower at 73.5%, compared to 74.5% across the whole UK.
There were 2.6million people in jobs north of the border, 14,000 fewer than in the previous quarter.
UK-wide, joblessness plunged to its lowest since early 2006 as the number of people out of work fell by 52,000 to 1.6million during the quarter to November – but there were 9,000 fewer in employment, which dropped to 31.8million.
Meanwhile, December claimant count numbers in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire rose by 36% to 3,440 and 34% to 2,365 respectively, compared with a year earlier, as the oil and gas downturn continued to impact on jobs.
Aberdeen Jobcentre manager Terry Parle said the decreases were not as big as some of those seen earlier last year.
It was too early to detect any major improvement but “there are jobs out there”, he said, adding the construction and care sectors were both recruiting.
His counterpart in Inverness, Chris Ross, said year-on-year figures for the Highland capital were distorted by a pilot scheme for universal credit. The claimant count for Inverness grew by 33% last month, to 1,140 people.
Mr Ross said underlying trends for the city were positive, adding: “We have seen a lot of businesses opening up, and the retail and tourism sectors are thriving.”
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across Scotland during December was down by 11,200 year-on-year, at 52,700.
Mr Mundell said: “Today’s statistics underline the need for the Scottish Government to focus all their efforts on supporting jobs and economic growth, because they paint a worrying picture.
“Whereas across the UK the news is better, here in Scotland unemployment is up, employment is down and Scotland’s economy continues to lag behind that of the UK.”
Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Despite a slight rise in the unemployment rate over the most recent quarter, it has fallen over the past year.
“It is also heartening to see how strongly we are performing in the youth labour market, where we see the unemployment levels among young Scots steadily declining.”