Today’s Labour Market Statistics – also a note on interpreting the data

Today saw the release of fresh data on the Scottish labour market from the ONS which (mostly!) cover data up to June 2017. Some additional data only cover the period up to March 2017.The main data can be accessed here.

In this blog, we pull out and highlight the key trends in these data.

Essentially, headline indicators of Scotland’s labour market remain good, but we need to bear in mind that, as always, the health of Scotland’s labour market is more complicated than headline numbers.

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Today’s labour market statistics: back to 2008?

The unemployment rate among the working age population in Scotland fell to 3.9% in the three months from March to May, the lowest unemployment rate since comparable records began.

In headline terms, the Scottish labour market today looks broadly similar to the same quarter in 2008, as the UK was entering recession (although in 2008 the employment rate was slightly higher and inactivity rate slightly lower than it is today).

The proportion of the employed who work part-time is almost back at pre-recession levels (the part-time employed accounted for 25% of total employment in 2008, rising to 28% during the recession, but now back to 26%).

Working age labour market statistics, Scotland
 

Employment rate

Unemployment rate

Inactivity rate

March – May 2008

74.6

4.0

22.3

March – May 2017

74.1

3.9

22.9

But underneath these headline figures, substantial changes in the composition of the Scottish labour market are observed.

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Gender and Scotland’s labour market

Mhairi Love is a third year undergraduate economics student at the University of Strathclyde and is participating in a summer internship in the Fraser of Allander Institute supported by the Carnegie Trust. Mhairi’s research interests are in inclusive growth, labour economics and the Scottish economy. This blog is one of a series of articles Mhairi will publish over the summer summarising her research.


Boosting female participation in the Scottish labour market has been a key policy priority for successive governments over a number of years. Considerable progress has been made, but there remains much work still to be done if Scotland (and the UK) are to match the performance of some of the best performing counties on labour market gender equality (principally, the Scandinavian countries).

This blog summarises recent trends in the gender breakdown in Scotland’s labour force.

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Labour Market Statistics – June 2017

Yesterday saw the release of new data on the performance of Scotland’s labour market.

The headlines were all taken by the fall in the 16+ unemployment rate to a record 4% (it was 4.1% for 16-64 year olds), the lowest since May 2008 and the joint lowest since the data are available (1992, if you’re interested!).

For sure, a low unemployment rate is to be welcomed, but as we have cautioned before, headline labour market statistics can mask a range of underlying challenges.

In this blog we focus on a number of interesting features of yesterday’s data including changes by age and gender; changing employment and in particular changes in self-employment, with a brief comment on earnings and productivity in light of rising inflation.

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A summary of our latest Scottish Labour Market Trends report

We published the 3rd edition of our Labour Market Trends report today. In addition to the usual review of the headline trends in the labour market, this edition includes two in depth articles provided by the Scottish Centre for Employment Research. These articles focus on the increasing polarisation of training opportunities in the labour market and recent trends in trade union representation in the UK and Scotland.

The full report can be accessed here.

This blog summarises some of the key issues identified in our assessment of current conditions and outlook.

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