Unemployment in Scotland has fallen by more than a fifth in the last year, with the jobless total down to a record low of 94,000.

Official figures for November 2018 to January show that the number of Scots who were out of work had reduced by 21.5% over the last 12 months.

Employment grew by 10% over the year, to stand at 2,676,000, according to the Office for National Statistics, an increase of 13,000 over the quarter.

The unemployment rate in Scotland now stands at 3.5% – lower than the overall rate for the UK of 3.9%

That marked the first time the UK jobless rate has has fallen below 4% since 1975.

In Scotland the proportion of those aged 16 to 64 who were in work increased to 75.3%.

Business minister Jamie Hepburn welcomed the fall in unemployment – but warned that leaving the European Union could “cost jobs”.

Mr Hepburn said: “Despite the huge and continued challenges of Brexit, the Scottish economy and jobs market continues to strengthen.

“Scotland’s employment rate rose to 75.3%, close to the highest on record. The unemployment rate fell yet again, to 3.4%, another record low and lower than the rest of the UK.

“Scotland is performing particularly well on unemployment rates for women and young people. At 2.6% for women and 7.4% for young people, both rates are at record lows and significantly lower than in the rest of the UK.

“However, while Scotland’s economy and jobs market continues to grow, the UK Government’s Brexit plans, in whatever form, will cost jobs, make people poorer and damage our society.”

The Scottish Government has already warned a no-deal Brexit could see the jobless total north of the border rise by 100,000.

Mr Hepburn added: “We continue to call on the UK Government to immediately rule out the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and extend the Article 50 process.

“However, as a responsible Government we will also continue – and indeed intensify – our work to prepare for all outcomes as best we can.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “It is great news that employment continues to rise in Scotland.

“Scotland’s two governments are working together to strengthen our economy and create jobs, with initiatives such as our growth deal programme beginning to reap rewards. In the last few weeks we have co-signed the £250 million Ayrshire growth deal and announced £345 million in joint government funding for the Borderlands.

“The UK Government’s investment in growth deals in Scotland is now more than £1.35 billion, and shows our huge commitment to growing Scotland’s job sector.”

However Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “These headline figures look encouraging but we know that being in work does not necessarily lift a person out of poverty, because of the crisis of low pay and insecure contracts across our economy. ”

He added: “SNP ministers hailing these figures as a sign of the health of the economy are not living in the real world.

“Real earnings are still lower than before the financial crash. People are working hard but still struggling.”

Economist Dr Stuart McIntyre of the Fraser of Allander Institute said: “On the face of it, today’s headline labour market statistics make good reading for the Scottish economy.

“The unemployment rate is at 3.4%, below that of the UK as a whole, and the employment rate increased further in the last three months to 75.3%. This suggests that any apparent Brexit uncertainty still isn’t feeding through to the key labour market indicators.

“That being said, it is important to caution that these impressive headline numbers are not leading to the improvement in underlying wages and earnings we might ordinarily expect.”