Nicola Sturgeon has been attack over the surge in the jobless total
The number of people out of work north of the Border soared for the third time in a row – at the same time as it fell to a 10-year low across the UK.
Separate data showed Scotland’s economy is also rising at a substantially slower rate than south of the Border.
The SNP attempted to blame Brexit for the poor performance despite the slump beginning well before last June’s vote.
Tories and industry leaders repeated calls for the Scottish Government to step in amid mounting fury over a business rates revaluation which will leave some firms facing hikes of up to 250 per cent.
The First Minister also faced demands to drop her threat of another independence referendum with opponents warning it is only fuelling uncertainty.
Scottish Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “It’s clear Nicola Sturgeon just isn’t working for Scotland.”
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Labour’s Jackie Baillie added: “SNP ministers in Edinburgh need to get their focus back on growing our economy rather than planning a divisive second independence referendum which will just create more uncertainty for business.”
We have devolved a raft of new powers to the Scottish Parliament
Scottish Secretary David Mundell
Official figures revealed Scotland’s jobless rose by 6,000 between October and December, to stand at 135,000.
UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million over the same period, the lowest level since the start of 2006.
Scotland did see an increase in the number of people in work, rising by 8,000 over the quarter to 2,611,000.
But this was 20,000 less than the same period in 2015.
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“Economic inactivity” – covering those who are not seeking or available to work – rose by 13,000 to 2,746,000.
It means the Scottish unemployment rate is now 4.9 per cent, above the UK rate of 4.8 per cent.
The employment rate is 73.6 per cent – below the UK average of 74.6 per cent.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the number of people claiming jobless benefits fell to 50,100 in January a drop of 2,100 over the month.
The number of people out of work in Scotland rose at the same time as it fell across the UK
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said there was “cause for some cautious optimism”.
He added: “However, declining economic activity during the last 12 months, and the gap between the Scottish and UK labour markets, remains a concern.
“We have devolved a raft of new powers to the Scottish Parliament. It now needs to use those levers to strengthen the Scottish economy.”
Meanwhile, GDP increased by 0.9 per cent in the third quarter last year, compared with 0.8 per cent in the rest of the UK.
Murdo Fraser said the SNP leader was not 'working for Scotland'
Scottish growth remains 1.4 per cent below the level seen two years ago, compared with a rise of 6 per cent across the UK.
Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn highlighted that youth unemployment rate was at its lowest level since records began and the nation continued to outperform the UK on female employment.
He added: “There is no doubt that businesses have faced increased economic uncertainty in the months following the EU referendum result and Scotland is not immune to these risks.”
CBI Scotland director Hugh Aitken said: “Rising unemployment is a concern, which means the Scottish Government needs to focus on supporting businesses to create jobs and economic growth by providing relief from business rates and boosting educational performance.”