More people out of work in Aberdeenshire
Thousands more people in Aberdeenshire were claiming unemployment benefits last month than a year previously.
Office for National Statistics data shows 6,690 people were claiming out-of-work benefits as of mid-February, up from 6,520 in January.
It was also more than double the 2,975 claimants recorded a year previously.
It means 4.2 per cent of Aberdeenshire's working-age population sought support in February – up from 1.9 per cent 12 months earlier.
The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.
Those on benefits last month were among roughly 213,325 across Scotland.
National figures, which are adjusted to account for seasonal changes, show around 2.7 million people across the UK were seeking help in February – up from 2.6 million in January, and the highest number since comparable records began in 2008.
The ONS cautioned that changes to Universal Credit in response to the virus mean more people can get the benefits while still being employed, which could affect the figures.
The Centre for Cities said furlough has helped prevent even sharper rises in the number of claimants.
Elena Magrini, senior analyst at the think tank, added: “The full extent of the damage will now depend on how quickly we will be able to exit this health crisis and on the timing of the withdrawal of the Government’s support for businesses and workers."
The Institute for Employment Studies said the labour market has started to turn the corner, with unemployment appearing to have peaked for now. But IES director Tony Wilson added: "New hiring is continuing to fall back and all of the improvement is being driven by fewer people leaving work rather than more people getting new jobs.
"This is proving to be a disaster for young people."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Government has provided £352 billion in support, and the vaccine rollout offers hope going forward.
He added: “Coronavirus has caused one of the largest labour market shocks this country has ever faced, which is why protecting, supporting and creating jobs has been my focus throughout this crisis."