Unemployment rates have increased sharply in Scotland and are now higher than in any other nation in the UK.
Among people aged over 16, there is now a 4.6 per cent rate of unemployment across Scotland, which compares to a rate of 3.9 per cent in the UK as a whole.
Unemployment in Scotland is now higher than it has been in three years, with the onset of the coronavirus crisis clearly the key reason why more than 30,000 people were added to the country’s jobless numbers between February and April.
There are concerns that the headline figures on unemployment could get significantly worse before they improve, with jobs data for May and June yet to be officially counted.
Indeed, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has said that the latest unemployment numbers could be “the tip of the iceberg” as far as the Scottish jobs market is concerned.
Mhoraig Green from CAS has suggested that there could be further waves of unemployment to come later this year as some industries struggle to reopen post-lockdown and a significant number of companies are forced out of business as the government’s furlough scheme unwinds.
“People who find they have no job to return to after furlough will be entering a difficult jobs market,” Ms Green noted.
“It’s essential both the Scottish and UK governments look at ways to grow our economy in a way that creates fair paying, secure work,” she added.
Fiona Hyslop, economic secretary to the Scottish government, has said that a relatively high degree of reliance on the tourism industry is the main reason why Scotland’s unemployment rate is higher than in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Across the UK, roughly 600,000 workers are estimated to have lost their jobs during March and April, despite the furlough scheme having been put in place to protect employment.
“The scale of what’s coming down the track will be far, far more than we’ve seen here and that is why the scale of the response has to equal that challenge,” Ms Hyslop said.
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More than a third of workers in Scotland are fearful that they might lose their jobs at some point over the next 12 months.
Large numbers of households across Scotland could be facing serious financial problems once the option to defer their bills or their debt repayments ceases to be available.
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