Scottish employment still growing

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By Russell Bruce

Last week I reported on the Labour Market Monthly Statistics from The Office of National Statistics (ONS).  The September figures from ONS covered the three months up to July.

Now we have confirmation that the North/South divide continued into August with the latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs for August.  The figures are quoted as a figure above or below 50.

If employment has increased from the previous month the figure is above 50.  Since April Scotland has consistently outperformed the UK as a whole which means that Scotland is contributing to keeping the all-UK figure just above that magic 50 number.

Month Scotland UK
April 56.6 56.0
May 56.5 53.9
June 55.2 51.9
July 55.0 51.7
August 53.9 50.9

As in previous months the jobs being created in IT are particularly strong indicating that Scotland is developing jobs that will impact on future growth potential and scoring 64.8 against the all UK figure of 58.2.

Scotland recorded an increase across all eight categories monitored.  Hotels and Catering scored 52.9 against the UK’s 49.5 indicating that our tourism industry is holding its own in very difficult times.

In Nursing and Medical Care, Scotland scored 59.2, a 12.5 lead over the UK figure of 46.7. Engineering and Construction, which has been strong across the UK, saw Scotland turn in a better performance this month than the UK at 57.6 against 56.7.

Donald MacRae, Chief Economist at Bank of Scotland, commented:

“This latest Report on Jobs shows further improvement in the Scottish labour market, with both permanent and temporary appointments increasing.  Permanent placements remained above the long-running series average, however at a weaker rate than that recorded last month.

“The Barometer has now been above the equivalent index for the UK for five consecutive months.  Demand for both temporary and permanent staff increased strongly.

“This latest Report on Jobs shows a further improvement in Scottish labour market conditions in August.  However, the Barometer has fallen to a five month low indicating that maintaining this improvement throughout the winter months will be challenging in the teeth of a global slowdown.”

Donald MacRae’s analysis is timely given Alex Salmond’s call for a Plan B last week.  Everybody recognises that Westminster needs to reduce its debt – and our share of it.

That does not prevent the type of initiatives the Scottish Government has implemented, carefully targeting initiatives that pay for themselves very quickly by getting people into work, thereby reducing the social security bill and increasing the numbers paying tax and national insurance .

The irony is that the Scottish Government does not have proper fiscal powers, so its initiatives deliver for the people of Scotland but the tax people then pay, as they rejoin the workforce, goes direct to the London Treasury.

What kind of clown would argue that proper fiscal powers should continue to be withheld by the Westminster Government?

Seems there are still a few clowns about.