THE SNP was today accused of focusing too much on the independence referendum and not enough on the Scottish economy after the latest jobless figures revealed a huge rise in long-term youth unemployment in Edinburgh.
Scotland’s overall unemployment rose again, taking the number of people out of work to 222,000, an increase of 7000 over the last quarter and 10,000 up on the same time last year. In contrast, unemployment in the UK as a whole fell by 50,000 in the last quarter to 2.53 million, the lowest since the spring.
Scottish unemployment at 8.2 per cent remains higher than the 7.9 per cent for the UK.
The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in Scotland increased from 86,000 in the last quarter to 104,000.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar said: “These very worrying unemployment figures should be a reminder to Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon that their first priority has to be jobs, not grandstanding on the referendum.
“In the last three months, 7,000 people in Scotland have lost their jobs while employment in the rest of the UK is going up – this SNP Government has to start taking responsibility for that.”
In Edinburgh, the number of young people out of work for more than 12 months was up 285 per cent on a year ago.
Edinburgh East Labour MP Sheila Gilmore said: “Today’s figures show that unemployment in Scotland is still going in the wrong direction. And they offer no let-up for young people in Edinburgh who are increasingly shut out of the job market.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the jobless rise showed Scotland was suffering under the UK Government’s “do-nothing economic policy”.
“We could not have a clearer example of why Scotland needs the full powers of independence. Even without the full economic powers of an independent nation and in the face of Westminster’s cuts, this Government is doing everything it can to stimulate Scotland’s economy and protect families, businesses and front line services.”