With labour market statistics published this morning set to show another rise in overall and long-term unemployment, and growth in Scotland estimated to be zero during the first quarter of 2010, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is renewing its call for the Government to end its policy of immediate and deep cuts in public spending.
The number of 18-24 year olds claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) for over 6 months has increased in 20 of Scotland’s local authorities since last year and fallen in only 7 according to a TUC analysis published ahead of the latest ONS unemployment statistics on 11 August 2010.
The analysis shows that the number of young people claiming JSA for over six months has increased by 33.7 per cent (or 2,245 young people) in Scotland over the last year to reach 8905. The comparable increase for the UK as a whole is 21 per cent (or 17,895 young people) to reach 103,230.
There are six Scottish local authority areas in the 15 worst performing areas across the UK: West Lothian (an increase of 121 per cent); South Ayrshire (120 per cent); Edinburgh City (117 per cent); East Lothian (100 per cent); Midlothian (95 per cent) and North Ayrshire (84 per cent). There are three Scottish local authority areas in the 15 best performing areas across the UK: Stirling (a decrease of 46 per cent); Angus (30 per cent) and Falkirk (28 per cent).
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary commented: “These depressing figures confirm that the outlook for the thousands of young people in Scotland currently looking for work is increasingly bleak and there is nothing whatsoever in the policies of the Coalition government to provide them with any comfort that the situation will improve any time soon."
He added: “Unemployment will remain worryingly high so long as the Government’s focus is on spending cuts rather than trying to get people back into work. The Chancellor’s hard austerity strategy is very likely to be counter-productive as the deficit increases due to the massive costs associated with high unemployment. The opportunity costs of so many young people out of work for so long will depress growth for years into the future."
“Previous investment in employment schemes helped to keep many thousands of young people off benefits and in paid work. But having made an early decision to scrap the £1.2 billion Future Jobs Fund, the Government has yet to announce similarly well-funded support to get people back into decent paid work. Young people struggling for work this summer should be very concerned by the Government’s silence,” declared Smith.