New unemployment figures show the number of people claiming out of work benefits in February in the Scottish Borders was 3,650, the highest figure since September 2020 (3,640).

This latest figure equates to 5.4 per cent of the working age population claiming out of work benefits.

February’s figure is also a 96 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2020 (1,860).

Colin Smyth said: “The level of unemployment seen in these statistics is deeply shocking and it is particularly devastating given the figures were stabilising 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.

“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.

“This area 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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