More action needed on youth unemployment, says MP

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown has called for more action to tackle youth unemployment in the region after it was revealed that the number of young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Dumfries and Galloway remains above both the Scottish and British average.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics show that while the Jobseekers Allowance claimant count for young people aged 16-24 fell from 480 (4.4%) in September to 430 (3.9%) in October, it is still higher than the Scottish figure of 3.8% and significantly higher than the British average of 3.5%.

Overall the Jobseekers Allowance claimant count in the region fell from 1957 (2.2%) in September to 1826 (2%) in October. However, as well as high levels of youth unemployment, the region continues to suffer from a major problem of underemployment. Based on the most up to date figures, of the 53,200 people in work in Dumfries and Galloway 62.7% are in full-time employment far lower than the Scottish average of 66.8% and British average of 67.7%. 19,900 people in the region are in part-time work (37.7%), higher than the Scottish average of 33.2% and British average of 32.3%.

Many of the new jobs being created are also seasonal, raising fears that after the Christmas period it was likely that unemployment would begin increasing again in January.

Mr Brown said: “Any fall in unemployment is welcome, but we still clearly have a major problem in Dumfries and Galloway whereby many of the new jobs being created are part-time, low paid and often seasonal. My fear is after the Christmas period we will see unemployment start to increase again in the region, which is exactly what has happened in previous years. We need more action from the UK and Scottish Government to create more permanent, full-time jobs that provide decent pay or we will never be able to shake off our region’s shameful record as the lowest paid in Scotland.”