Unemployment benefit figures for the Western Isles are a massive 37 per cent lower than levels recorded five years ago and only slightly up on those from a year ago.
The latest Labour Market Statistics (LMS) were released yesterday and show that 60 island residents aged between 18 and 24 claimed Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit in December 2015.
This is a rise of 10 claimants (20 per cent) from the same period in 2014, although the total number of islanders included in the claimant count is down by 3 per cent, from 350 to 340.
Alan McGilvary, Job Centre Plus manager for the Highlands and Islands, commented: “This shows the claimant count claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit.
“Our 18-24 year old register shows an increase of 10 youngsters claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit compared to those claiming Jobseekers Allowance last year.
“This is in part because Universal Credit is an in and out of work benefit so anyone taking a job for 16 hours or more would stop claiming Jobseekers Allowance but would now stay on Universal Credit.
“The Work Coaches in Stornoway Jobcentre work closely with our local employers to source Work Experience places to build young people’s confidence, and give them an up to date reference and recent work history for their CV.”
The figures also show islanders on the claimant count in December 2010 were 90 in the 18-24 age bracket, 30 per cent more than presently, and 540 in total, 37 per cent more than current levels.
Mr McGilvary added: “The claimant count across the whole of the Highlands is pretty similar and it is a challenging time locally. The oil impact has been keenly felt in a lot of areas and has added to this.
“We all hope the issues facing the Mill can also be solved to save those jobs as the Mills are an important employer as well as important historically to the isles.”
Across Scotland 21,000 more people are in employment with the figure rising to 2,631,000.
Nation-wide the UK has its highest ever employment rate of 74 per cent with a record 31.4 million people in work where the figure of people in work has risen in the past year.
Today’s official figures show that over the last year more than half-a-million more people are now in work, bringing employment to a new record high of 31.4 million.
Wages have continued to grow strongly, 2 per cent over the last year, and the number of vacancies has reached more than 750,000.
Unemployment now stands at 5.1 per cent – the lowest since early 2006 – and long-term unemployment has fallen by 25 per cent over the year to 488,000, the lowest in six years.