Scotland’s jobs market subdued in March, research finds

Growth in Scotland’s jobs market remained subdued in March, according to new research.

The latest Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs found permanent staff placements continued to expand last month, though at a “subdued pace” that held close to February’s recent low.

Temporary placements grew sharply, while demand for both types of staff grew at a faster pace than in February.

There was a steep decline in the number of permanent candidates available while short-term staff supply in Scotland also deteriorated in March.

There was a “renewed acceleration” in the growth of permanent staff vacancies, with a stronger increase than for the UK overall.

Temporary job openings also increased at a quicker pace in Scotland than the UK average.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Following the marked slowdown seen in the opening months of 2019 in permanent staff appointments, March data revealed little signs of any recovery to the strong levels seen at the end of last year, with growth remaining subdued overall.

“Nevertheless, relative to the rest of the UK, Scotland continued to outperform, as has been the case for much of the past year.

“Survey data for the UK as a whole pointed to the quickest fall in permanent staff placements in over two and a half years in March.”

The survey also indicated sustained pay pressures during March.

Starting salaries awarded to people joining permanently rose markedly, albeit at a rate that was little-changed from February’s near two-year low.

Meanwhile, wages for temporary staff grew at a faster pace than in February, although the growth was weak relative to the average across the past 12 months.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 100 Scottish recruitment and employment consultancies.