MP welcomes drop in Isles unemployment

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Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil MP has welcomed newly published statistics which show the Western Isles’ local economy has helped to secure an increase in employment and reduction in unemployment.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics for March 2013 shows the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the Western Isles was 501. The number of claimants is 65 lower than in March 2012 and 18 lower than in February 2013.

The statistics follow a Scotland-wide trend where employment rose by 39,000 or 1% in the first quarter of 2013, the largest increase since 2000, despite UK unemployment rising by 70,000 to 2.56 million during this period.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “These figures show Na h-Eileanan an Iar has higher employment and lower unemployment than most other constituencies, ranking 395 out of 650 UK constituencies.

“While 501 unemployed is still high and we must be prepared to help these people too – it is gratifying to see that in this recession, the islands are not suffering as badly as in the past and of course educational and training have paid a part as well as many travelling for work at sea or in the North sea—we still need to strengthen capacity in the islands as many more would like to return home if they could find work in their field – that will be the challenge of independence.

“These stronger employment statistics in Scotland are no accident and are testament to the wide range of measures the SNP Government has put in place to create and secure jobs.

“Meanwhile recent figures also show that while the UK economy shrunk in the last quarter of 2012, the Scottish economy achieved growth of 0.5%.

“The progress that has been achieved in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, despite a UK-wide downturn, shows what we can achieve with limited powers in Scotland. Only a Yes vote in the September 2014 referendum will give us the economic and fiscal powers we need to build a stronger Scotland.”