Concerns are being raised about new figures showing a large drop in women's wages in Scotland.
While the Office for National Statistics figures published on 18 December 2013 indicate that the number of women in employment in Scotland has reached a 21-year high of 1.2 million, they also show that in the past year wages have fallen.
Moreover, critics of optimistic interpretations of employment statistics across Britain point to the fact that many of the jobs included are part-time, temporary, zero-hours, self-employed or otherwise insecure.
Average weekly earnings in Scotland are down by 2.6 per cent in the past year to £522, with women seeing a 3.2 per cent drop - £15 a week - compared to a 1.6 drop for men.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood's economy committee, commented: "The cost of living is central to everyone's concerns, so it's worrying to see a fall in earnings in Scotland, especially for women. This three per cent drop means women are getting by on average with £60 a month less, while costs such as rent, transport and energy continue to rise. While the number of women in employment is to be welcomed, this masks a cost of living problem we could be tackling.
"The Scottish Government's track record on women in work is not good; from its gender-imbalanced modern apprenticeships scheme to its diverting of funds towards male-dominated capital construction projects. I will continue to urge ministers to do more to close the pay gap between men and women, and to encourage well-paid, secure jobs that put money in people's pockets," Ms Johnstone added.
* Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showing average weekly earnings (Microsoft Excel document):