Scotland’s unemployment rate has fallen, new figures show.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that between December and February the unemployment rate was 3.5%, down 0.1 percentage points from the previous quarter and 0.2 percentage points from the same period two years ago, before the onset of the pandemic.
Total employment fell by 0.3 percentage points to 74.7%, a drop of 0.6% since before the pandemic.
The number of people deemed “economically inactive” – those aged between 16 and 64 who are not working, not seeking to work or are unavailable to begin employment – in Scotland was 22.5%, up 0.8 percentage points since before the pandemic and 1.1 percentage points higher than the rest of the UK.
Early estimates also suggest that median monthly pay for payrolled employees has increased by almost 10% since before the pandemic but fell slightly in the past month.
Median pay was estimated to be £2050 in March, a 9.5% increase since February 2020 – lower than the 11.1% seen in the rest of the UK.
Scotland’s public finance minister Tom Arthur said: “For December to February 2022, Scotland’s estimated employment rate fell over the quarter to 74.7% while the estimated unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.5%.
“This latest time period reflects the emergence of the Omicron variant at the end of last year, when it was necessary to implement strict public health measures to curtail its spread.
“Separate HMRC early estimates show 2.41 million payrolled employees in Scotland in March 2022, 21,000 more than in February 2020, prior to the pandemic.
“While we continue to face economic challenges, with the rising cost of living, the negative effects of Brexit and the potential economic impacts of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Scottish Government remains committed to doing all we can to help our economy recover.
“The new National Strategy for Economic Transformation will help us build an economy of secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs.
“We are also investing an additional £68.3m in employability and training to help businesses address skills shortages and help build a fairer, more prosperous economy for everyone.”