THOUSANDS more jobseekers have found work this spring than the same period last year, new figures have revealed.
New statistics for the three months to May show the number of unemployed claiming the dole across Edinburgh and Lothian has dropped by 4300, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It comes against an improving national backdrop showing the Scottish workforce has risen by 12,000 from March to May – with more than 2.5 million people now in employment.
Edinburgh’s unemployment figures have dropped by 0.8 per cent compared with last year while the number of East Lothian and West Lothian job-seekers fell by 0.7 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.
Politicians have trumpeted the data – which show jobseekers at their lowest level since December 2008 – as a “positive development” in reducing unemployment but union leaders said large numbers of young people were still struggling to find work.
Councillor Frank Ross, economy convener, said the figures are “encouraging” and evidence that the city’s approach to boosting employment rates “is bearing fruit in the Capital”.
He also said Edinburgh had “stood out as a remarkably successful and resilient city” despite going through a time of “considerable economic instability”.
Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland, said the figures showed there has been a “positive development” and the coalition government was making the right decisions for a “stable, growing economy and the jobs that come with it”.
Jim McGonigle, district manager for the Department for Work and Pensions in the East and South Scotland, said the Lothian figures stood up well against the UK picture.
He said: “It will help the local economy enormously and it’s really good for the individuals improving their position in life and while we are never complacent and we know there’s still work to be done I think it’s a very positive reflection on the staff getting people back into work.”
Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart welcomed the employment boost, saying it demonstrated the importance of sharing economic progress across the UK.
“I am delighted that unemployment has fallen in my constituency for the fourth month in a row and this is down to the hardworking business community in Edinburgh,” he said.
But Des Loughney, secretary for Edinburgh Trades Union Council, said he could not “take comfort” in the figures because they failed address youth unemployment or zero-hour contracts.
“The real issue is not unemployment – the issue is unemployment and having a job you want,” he said.
“We are particularly concerned about young people and those who have to work zero-hour contracts. Or where they are working five to ten hours [per week] which is no use to anyone – it’s very difficult to plan your life that way.”
He added: “As a trade union we would say that anyone who wants to work full-time should be given an opportunity to do that.”