The re-opening of hospitality and the Covid staycation boom have helped cut the number of job-seeking claimants in the north by more than 20%, according to new figures.
But, statistics for the north-east showed a more mixed picture, with a 6% year-on-year rise in Aberdeen and a 9% fall in Aberdeenshire.
The latest claimant counts from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) came as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed a slight drop in Scotland’s unemployment rate in the last quarter, compared to the previous four months.
In the Highland Council area, the total number of people in the “searching for work” bracket was 6,399 in May, compared to 8,000 in the same month last year, according to the DWP.
There was also a 15% drop among 18-24 year-olds in the category over the period.
New hotels have created jobs
Izabela Fabia, the DWP’s customer services manager for the area, said the re-opening of the hospitality sector, new hotel openings and the popularity of the region for holidaymakers unable to travel abroad had contributed to the figures.
In the Granite City there were 8,488 claimants classified as searching for work in May, which was an increase of 485 on the previous year and, among those aged 18-24, the total was also up by 6%.
The over total in the Aberdeenshire Council area was 5,567, down by 554 from May 2020
Meanwhile, the ONS said that, for Scotland as a whole, the unemployment rate between March and May for people aged 16 and over was 4.4% – a 0.2% drop on the previous quarter.
This figure was below the UK-wide rate of 4.8% for over-16s.
The employment rate in Scotland was 74%, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points.
There were 2.532 million people aged 16 to 64 in employment in Scotland between March and May, while 118,000 in that age range were unemployed.
Employment minister Richard Lochhead said: “In March to May 2021, Scotland’s employment rate estimate decreased over the quarter by 0.4 percentage points to 74% and the unemployment rate estimate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 4.4%.
“Separate HMRC early estimates, also published this morning, show the number of payrolled employees has increased over the month by 27,000 to 2.4 million in June 2021, however this is 24,000 below levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.
“These latest figures reflect some of the challenges facing our labour market, however as the Job Retention Scheme continues to support jobs they do not show the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
He continued: “The Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support employees and employers, however it is crucial the UK Government retain the furlough scheme for as long as it is needed.”