Employment Up, but People Economically Inactive Also Up

Scotland’s Unemployment rate is down in the latest statistics for the period December 2022 to February 2023. Scotland’s unemployment rate was the 2nd lowest in the UK with only Northern Ireland faring better..

For those aged 16 – 64 Scotland’s employment rate was the second highest in the UK, just slightly below that of England.

However, the picture is not as clear as we might think because the number of people termed ‘economically inactive’ in Scotland has increased, with only England being worse.

Economic inactivity refers to people of working age (16 – 64) who are not in employment, who have not been seeking work within the last 4 weeks and/or are unable to start work within the next 2 weeks. These could be students, people who have taken early retirement, those awaiting the results of an application , or the long term sick. In Scotland the rate for economic inactivity was higher for women than for men.

Increases in economic inactivity in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic were largely driven by people aged 16 to 24 years, while more recent increases were driven by those aged 50 to 64 years. (ONS)


Around 1.9 million people in the UK were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 5 March 2023 (latest figures). Over two-thirds (69%) reported experiencing long COVID symptoms for at least one year. Over one-third (41%) reported experiencing symptoms for at least two years.

Self-reported long COVID was more common in:

  • those aged 35 to 69 years
  • females
  • people living in more deprived areas
  • those working in social care
  • those aged 16 years and over and who were not working or not looking for work
  • those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability 

Symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 1.5 million people, or 79% of those with self-reported long COVID, with 381,000 (20%) reporting that their day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”. 

A study by researchers at The University of Edinburgh estimated that over 90,000 people in Scotland were suffering from Long Covid (conducted over the period 1st March 2020 – 20th October 2022) with the most common symptom being fatigue (extreme tiredness). This is believed to be an under estimate by the study group.

Click on this link for NHS Inform Information and support if you have ongoing symptoms after coronavirus

Last year in an Orkney News article we reported on the Long Term effects of Long Covid on the economy and specifically that of the workforce, “110,000 workers missing from work as a result” of #LongCovid. This is an issue our communities and health service will be dealing with for many months (perhaps years) to come.

Fiona Grahame

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