THE London Olympics are to blame for a rise in unemployment in Scotland over the summer, claims First Minister Alex Salmond.

Tomorrow, Glasgow will welcome the Scottish members of the Olympic team with a parade through the city streets, but Mr Salmond said the Games had impacted on Scotland's economic fortunes

He said: "The short term Olympic effect was felt exclusively in south east England. The employment effect was not felt not Scotland – if anything, it has been detrimental."

Mr Salmond then repeated the call made by Financial Secretary John Swinney, reported in yesterday's Evening Times, for UK Chancellor George Osborne to release cash for 'shovel ready' projects to stimulate the economy.

The latest unemployment figures showed an increase of 4000 over the last three months in Scotland to 223,000. The total – which includes people who are out of work and not eligible for benefits – was 16,000 higher than for the same period last year.

And the Scottish unemployment rate increased to 8.2%, against the UK rate of 8.1%.

The number of people in work also increased, with a rise of 4000 over the three months from May to July to a total of 2,490,000.

As a result the employment rate increased slightly, to 71.4%, just above the average for the UK as a whole.

Mr Swinney said: "The employment rate in Scotland has continued to climb and for the 22nd consecutive month remains higher than the UK rate.

"Our youth employment rate remains above that of the UK and our female employment rate is the highest of any UK nation.

"These positive indications are offset by a rise in unemployment, which reinforces our calls for an economic stimulus from the UK Government to boost jobs and promote growth."

However, opposition MSPs said the SNP was failing out of work Scots, with youth unemployment increasing 2.8% to 24.3%.

Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour's Youth Employment spokeswoman, said: "One of the really alarming aspects in the figures is for those who are long-term unemployed, especially amongst young people.

"The number of young people on the dole for over a year has shot up by two and half times, with a very large proportion of young men in this age group entering long term unemployment.

"These are not faceless figures but a generation of young Scots."

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the economy committee in Holyrood, said: It is disappointing to see an increase in youth unemployment. This comes after the SNP has slashed college budgets and is supposed to be encouraging more young people to take up modern apprenticeships."