Latest employment figures released on Tuesday have revealed 6,340 people in East Ayrshire and 5,005 in South Ayrshire claiming out-of-work benefits in August. This equates to 8.3 per cent of the working age population and 7.6 per cent respectively.
Worryingly, the highest rates are seen among young people – in South Ayrshire, 13.2 per cent of 18-24 year olds. In East Ayrshire, the figure is 14.6 per cent of 18-24 year olds.
New statistics also show that in East Ayrshire 17,000 workers were still furloughed in August, while those claiming Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) funds were 3,800. In total, this represents 27,140 people out of work in the region or 36 per cent of the working age population (considering total out-of-work benefit claimants, SEISS and furlough).
In South Ayrshire, 15,400 workers were furloughed, with 4,200 claiming SEISS. In total, the number of people out of work is 24,605 or 37 per cent of the working age population.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said the figures continue to be deeply worrying and he believes unless more is done, the rates of unemployment will only get worse as the furlough scheme finishes at the end of October.
Colin Smyth said: “The level of unemployment seen in these statistics is deeply shocking and it is particularly devastating among young people across Ayrshire.
“If this continues, we risk losing a whole generation to the scourge of unemployment, which is heart-breaking. What is worse is that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. They exclude the thousands of other people locally who are no longer employed compared to last month but don’t receive benefits.
“I also fear the number of people out of work will rise significantly in the next few months as the UK Government furlough scheme finishes at the end of October.
“We should never forget that behind the numbers are local people whose livelihoods have been snatched from them, so my thoughts are very much with all those affected.
“Ayrshire is standing on the edge of an unemployment crisis and without more Government help to support jobs, the number of families who will find themselves out of work is going to rise significantly. Covid-19 is first and foremost a health crisis but it has also now become a massive economic crisis.”