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Business / Unemployment rises sharply

SHETLAND’s traditionally low unemployment rate rose to 3.5 per cent in June, according to figures published by the Office of National Statistics on Thursday.

As of 11 June 490 people (295 male and 195 female) were claiming Job Seekers Allowance, an increase of 200 (or 69 per cent) from a year ago when the unemployment rate was two per cent. The Scottish unemployment rate is 4.3 per cent.

The number of people out of work in Shetland is expected to increase further as these latest figures do not include known job losses at Scatsta Airport and Moorfield Hotel.

The changes to the furlough scheme, which comes to an end at the end of October, is also likely to have an impact on the number of people who find themselves out of a job.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said: “The figures show a worrying trend but they are not unexpected given the economic challenges of the pandemic paired with headwinds for the oil and gas industry.

“We cannot be complacent about ensuring our recovery in the isles. We need a long term plan that can secure our future – this is exactly why economic development policy needs to be made fit for purpose again.”

Earlier this week the UK Government said that more than 3,000 people in Shetland had been furloughed by the end of June, almost a quarter of the workforce.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, it emerged that more than 1,000 people in Shetland were claiming Universal Credit benefits in May this year.