JUNE’S unemployment figures are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and Dumfries and Galloway is still nowhere near the likely peak, an MSP has warned.
Colin Smyth, South of Scotland MSP, is urging the UK and Scottish governments to take urgent action to halt an unemployment crisis.
According to statistics released by NOMIS, a service provided by the Office for National Statistics, last week, 5,015 people claimed out of work benefits in the region in June, a 92 per cent rise compared with June 2019.
In that month the jobless total as 2,610 and in March this year it was 2,910, rising to 5,130 in May.
The percentage rise between March and June this year was 75.
The region has a working age population of 87,000. As well as the 5,105 people claiming out of work benefits 6,000 are claiming the self-employment income support scheme, while another 17,400 are furloughed.
Taking into account these three groups, this represents 33 per cent of the region’s working age population currently not working.
Mr Smyth said: “Recent unemployment figures have shown the highest claimant count in Dumfries and Galloway for June since 1996 and we are still nowhere near the likely peak.
“We should never forget that, behind the numbers, are individuals, whose livelihoods have been snatched from them, so my thoughts are very much with all those affected.
“The level of unemployment among young people is especially devastating and we really do risk losing a whole generation to the scourge of unemployment.
These figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
They exclude the thousands of other people who are no longer employed compared with the previous month but don’t receive benefits.
The number of people out of work will rise significantly in the next few months as the UK government furlough scheme comes to an end.
“This needs to act as a wake-up call to both the UK and Scottish governments.
“Our region 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.”