Latest employment figures released on Tuesday have revealed 3,880 people in Scottish Borders claiming out-of-work benefits in August, a rise of 119 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.

Youth unemployment (18-24) is up 116 per cent in the region, compared to 2019.

New statistics also show that 15,100 workers were still furloughed in August, while those claiming Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) funds were 6,800. In total, this represents 25,780 people out of work in the region or 38 per cent of the working age population (considering total out-of-work benefit claimants, SEISS and furlough).

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 in the Scottish Borders.

“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.

“Scottish Borders 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.”

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