Jobs report reveals ‘mixed picture’ for Scotland

There was a mixed picture for Scotland’s jobs market last month, according to a new survey.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest findings show permanent placements rose in May at the same time as there were declines across the UK as a whole.

However, demand for permanent staff increased at the weakest pace in around two-and-a-half years and the availability of candidates to fill permanent roles also dropped.

The bank’s Report on Jobs provides a monthly snapshot of the labour market picture in Scotland, and it found “positive signs” for the situation in May.

Permanent staff appointments continued to increase, sustaining an upturn that began in February 2017.

The report said: “This was a marked contrast to the trend seen for the UK overall, which showed a third successive monthly decline in permanent placements.”

Adverts for temporary placements also grew at a sharp and accelerated pace during May, outpacing that seen for the UK as a whole.

However, the supply of labour continued to deteriorate in Scotland during the survey period, with the rate of decline the most pronounced for permanent staff.

Permanent and short-term job openings increased at much quicker rates than for the UK, but growth in both cases was “subdued” relative to the picture throughout last year.

On pay, the salaries awarded to permanent new starts increased strongly during May.

“That said, the rate of salary inflation was little-changed from those seen since February and was notably weaker than the 2018 average,” the report added.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Latest survey data revealed a mixed picture for Scotland’s labour market. The positive takeaways remain on the hiring front, where Scotland defied the downturn in recruitment at the wider UK level and posted a solid rise in both temp billings and permanent appointments.

“However, although both staff demand and pay pressures remain historically elevated, rates of increase were softer than 2018 averages, beckoning the question as to whether Scotland’s resilience can be sustained in the coming months.”