The latest unemployment figures released on Tuesday, which show the number of people claiming out of work benefits in Ayrshire and remains significantly up on this time last year, are a matter of “huge concern”, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
In East Ayrshire in October 2020, 5,790 people claimed out of work benefits in the region, slightly down on September (6,025).
However, the picture is dramatically different when compared with the same time last year, where the figure stood at 3,655 in October 2019.
The October 2020 figure represents 7.6 per cent of the working age population claiming out of work benefits.
In South Ayrshire in October 2020, 4,605 people claimed out of work benefits in the region, slightly down on September (4,820).
However, compared with the same time last year, the figure stood at 2,580 in October 2019.
The October 2020 figure represents 6.9 per cent of the working age population claiming out of work benefits.
Colin Smyth said: “The easing of lockdown in the summer where some people returned to work, but most remained on furlough seems to have put a temporary hold on further rises in unemployment during the early autumn months.
“But sadly, it’s widely recognised that this is the calm before the storm and the full impact of coronavirus on employment as further restrictions are enforced, has yet to be felt.
“The level of unemployment is already almost twice that of a year ago, which is still a huge concern. All the projections are that unemployment levels will be dramatically higher over the next six to nine months and we are set for a level of joblessness we’ve not seen since the ‘90s.
“As Ayrshire struggles to adjust to yet more lockdowns and regulation changes which look set to continue indefinitely, these figures are really worrying. But what we can’t forget is that behind the numbers are individuals who have lost their jobs and families worried about how to pay the bills.”