Scotland’s male unemployment rate reached a record low as the overall number of people in work jumped by 37,000 in the run-up to Christmas.
At the same time as employment in the UK grew to a record high, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there were 2,680,000 Scots in work in the period from October to December 2019.
While this was up from the previous quarter, the total was 5000 lower than the same time in 2018.
Scotland’s employment rate for those aged 16 to 64 was lower than that recorded across the UK – with 75% of the working age population in a job, compared to 76.5%.
But the figures also showed Scotland had a lower unemployment rate, sitting at 3.5% compared to 3.8% for the UK as a whole.
For men, the unemployment rate was even lower at 3.3% – the lowest on record and below the 3.9% across the UK.
A total of 96,000 Scots were classed as being unemployed in the final three months of 2019, according to the data.
Business minister Jamie Hepburn said an increase in female employment was the reason for Scotland’s employment rate being “close to the highest on record”.
The Scottish Government will “continue to make Scotland’s workplaces fairer through our work to tackle the gender pay gap, reduce the disability employment gap and demonstrate leadership in tackling race inequality in employment”, he pledged.
But Hepburn stressed the impact Britain’s departure from the EU could have on jobs and the economy.
He said: “Brexit remains the biggest threat to jobs, businesses and our economy.
“That is why the Scottish Government has consistently been clear that the best option for the future well-being and prosperity of Scotland – and the UK as a whole – is to stay in the European Union.
“The latest Scottish Government state of the economy report sets out that, even if a (trade) deal is reached, firms’ hiring intentions may remain weak this year and jobs growth and staff shortages in some sectors may worsen.”
Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “It is good news that Scotland’s unemployment figures continue to fall and employment increases.
“However, there is still room for improvement as Scotland’s employment rate remains below the UK average.”