GRAEME Dey, the MSP for Angus South, has welcomed the latest employment figures for Scotland and in particular Angus.
Statistics published last Wednesday, by the Office for National Statistics, showed the largest rise in employment for 12 years with unemployment falling below 200,000 for the first time since 2009.
The encouraging findings have been mirrored in Angus where the percentage of working age residents in a job reached a near four year high of 74.3 per cent.
Mr Dey said: “The increase in the numbers of people now in work is very welcome news.
“It confirms that Scotland not only continues to outperform the rest of the United Kingdom but is making great strides in providing more job opportunities, especially for young people.
“The SNP Scottish Government has invested heavily in order to assist young people into employment through the Modern Apprenticeship programme.
“But that is just one way in which we are making a difference. We have also invested some £29 million in Community Jobs Scotland to create thousands of jobs for young people in the third sector.
“And there are encouraging economic signs.
“The Scottish economy has grown for the second successive quarter with growth of 0.5 per cent from October to December which compares with a contraction of 0.3 per cent over the same period in the rest of the UK.
“Although there remains work to be done the indications are hopeful.”
Employment across Scotland rose by 39,000 in the three month period from December until February, and this was the largest increase in employment since between May and July in 2000.
Scotland’s headline employment rate, which refers to the population aged 16 to 64, rose by 1.0 percentage point to 71.7 per cent and is now higher than the UK rate of 71.4 per cent.
Over the three months from December until February this year, the total unemployment fell by 11,000 or 0.5 percentage points to 7.3 per cent which in turn made Scotland’s unemployment rate lower than the UK rate which rose by 0.2 percentage points to 7.9 per cent.
The Scottish youth labour market continued its strong performance with the youth unemployment rate now down 6.8 percentage points over the year to December to February.
The Scottish youth unemployment rate of 16.1 per cent is lower than the UK rate of 20.6 per cent and the Scottish youth employment rate of 56.7 per cent is higher than the UK rate of 49.7 per cent.
Figures published by the Scottish Government reveal the Scottish economy grew for the second successive quarter partly due to a large increase in electricity and gas supply and this included strong growth in renewable energy output over the three month period.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said it was “very welcome to see these positive trends in employment”.
He said: “Today’s figures show the highest increase in employment in a single quarter for 12 years with an increase of 39,000 jobs and unemployment is now below the 200,000 mark for the first time in over three years.
“Scotland now has a higher employment rate and lower unemployment rate than the UK, stronger economic growth and youth unemployment figures that continue to improve and outperform the UK.”