Unemployment rose by 30,000 in first month of lockdown

Unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over rose to 4.6% between February and April.

Unemployment has risen in Scotland between February and April as the impact of lockdown was felt, according to latest figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed over the period, the unemployment rate for people aged over 16 rose to 4.6%, a 1.1% increase on the previous quarter.

It represents an increase of 30,000 to 127,000 over the first five weeks of lockdown, as the coronavirus-related restrictions affected the labour market.

The 4.6% figure in Scotland compares against a UK unemployment rate of 3.9%.

The number of people aged 16 to 64 in employment in the three months ending in April fell to 74.3%, a 0.7% drop on the previous quarter.

The figures reflect the impact of a month of lockdown which started on March 23.

Business minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Between February and April 2020, Scotland’s employment rate estimate fell over the quarter to 74.3% and the unemployment rate estimate rose over the quarter to 4.6%.

“These are the first labour market statistics to include a full month of lockdown measures, and show clearly the scale of the challenge facing Scotland as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“I know that many people will be feeling a deep sense of anxiety about their livelihoods. Keeping people in work while supporting those who have lost their jobs will continue to be at the heart of our thinking as we carefully reopen the economy.

“Scotland’s labour market has changed drastically since the lockdown measures were imposed.”

He added: “While the Scottish Government has welcomed the support schemes from HMRC during this time, and their extension, it is important that we ensure this support continues to be offered for as long as required, particularly in sectors such as tourism, hospitality, retail, culture, and oil and gas, which will not have fully recovered by October.

“That is why we are urging the UK Government to work with us to ensure support reflects what is required in Scotland.

“Failure to do so will put the economy at a competitive disadvantage in recovering from this crisis, and could result in additional job losses.

“We must not allow that to happen.”

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