Fall in unemployment
First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed a further fall in Scottish unemployment as new figures showed that unemployment in Scotland declined by 11,000 over the three-month period March-May 2011 - the eighth consecutive reported fall.
This is the first time since the figures for December 2009-February 2010 that Scottish unemployment has been below the UK level - and the lowest rate of unemployment in Scotland for 18 months, since September-November 2009.
Scotland now has lower unemployment than the UK as a whole, higher employment, and a lower rate of economic inactivity.
The latest Labour Market Statistics show that the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 7.6 per cent in Scotland - the UK unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage points to 7.7 per cent over the same period.
The level of total employment (for the population aged 16 and over) has increased by 55,000 over the year in Scotland. Scotland's employment rate is 71.7 per cent - higher than the UK figure of 70.7 per cent.
These figures for March-May demonstrate that unemployment is falling in Scotland and employment rising at 7-times the rate as is happening in the rest of the UK.
The new figures also show that the economic inactivity rate (for the population aged 16-64) in Scotland in the three month period March-May was 22.3 per cent - compared to 23.2 per cent for the UK as a whole.
The claimant count rate in Scotland increased by 0.1 percentage points, or 1,500, to 5.3 per cent in June.
Mr Salmond said:
"These are positive figures, with employment in Scotland rising and unemployment falling at seven-times the rate as in the rest of the UK, but there can be absolutely no room for complacency.
"We now have lower unemployment, higher employment, and a lower rate of economic inactivity in Scotland than the UK as a whole - and the lowest joblessness rate in Scotland for 18 months, with the eighth consecutive reported fall. And this week's PMI survey showed Scotland's private sector expanding for the sixth consecutive month in June.
"These new figures demonstrate that the economic policy of the Scottish Government is delivering, and is continuing to create and safeguard jobs across our communities - with a series of positive employment initiatives in recent weeks, including from Gamesa, AWS Osean Energy, Ceridian, State Street, the plans for the Climate Change Centre at Edinburgh University, and Aquamarine Power's new Oyster wave energy converter unveiled at Methil today.
"We have prioritised the role of capital investment as a key driver of recovery, and workforce jobs in construction have increased by 11.6 per cent in Scotland in the year to March, compared to a 0.2 per cent fall across the UK as a whole.
"However, as the increase in the claimant count demonstrates, more needs to be done to support jobs, secure investment and boost economic activity across Scotland - and these figures reinforce the need for a Plan B or flexibility from the UK Government in order to strengthen growth and recovery.
"With greater access to the key levers of economic growth, such as corporation tax and borrowing powers, we could do more to enhance investment and jobs in the Scottish economy, and give Scotland a major competitive advantage."