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Economic analysis

Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs – October 2022

Scotland's labour market saw an improvement in overall hiring activity in September, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs survey.

  • Permanent placements increase in September
  • Fresh uplift in permanent staff appointments, but growth only mild
  • Temp billings rise at quicker pace
  • Pay pressures ease, but remain historically sharp

Scotland's labour market saw an improvement in overall hiring activity in September, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs (PDF 391KB) survey, with recruiters reporting a fresh rise in permanent placements and stronger temp billings growth. 

The seasonally adjusted Permanent Placements Index rose back above the neutral 50.0 mark, rising from 47.3 in August to 52.7 in September, to signal a mild uplift in permanent staff appointments, while temp billings increased at a strong and accelerated rate. 

At the same time, sustained growth of vacancies, combined with another deterioration in candidate availability, led to further upwards pressure on pay. Notably, both starting salaries and temp wages increased at historically sharp rates, despite easing since August.

 

Sebastian Burnside, Chief Economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, commented:

“Permanent staff appointments across Scotland rose during September following a moderate fall in August, amid reports of improved hiring activity at clients in some sectors and strong demand for workers. The rate of growth was only mild, but nonetheless outpaced the UK-wide average. Temp billings also increased, with growth ticking up since August to a solid pace.

"The imbalance between staff demand and supply continued to place upwards pressure on pay in September. The latest survey showed that both permanent and temporary staff availability continued to decline sharply, which drove further increases in temp pay and starting salaries at rates seldom seen in the history of the survey.”

 

Permanent placements return to growth

Adjusted for seasonal variation, the Permanent Placements Index rose back above the neutral level of 50.0 in September to signal a fresh rise in permanent staff appointments across Scotland. Panellists attributed the upturn to strong demand for staff and increased hiring activity amongst clients in some sectors. That said, the pace of increase was only mild.

September data pointed to sustained growth of temp billings across Scotland, extending the current sequence of upturn that began two years ago. The rate of expansion ticked up from August's seven-month low and was solid overall.

The pace of increase in temp billings in Scotland was broadly in line with the trend seen for the UK as a whole.

 

Further marked drop in permanent candidate availability

The supply of permanent staff across Scotland continued to decrease in September, stretching the current sequence of contraction to 20 months. Skills shortages and high demand for staff reportedly drove the latest fall. Notably, the rate of decline quickened slightly on the month and was marked overall.

Scotland recorded a much sharper fall in permanent staff supply than that seen on average across the UK, with the pace of decline slowing slightly on the month at the national level.

Adjusted for seasonal variation, the Temporary Candidate Availability Index remained below the neutral 50.0 mark in September, signalling a nineteenth straight monthly deterioration in the supply of temp staff across Scotland and one that was rapid overall. Panellists cited strong demand for short-term workers and a reluctance among candidates to move roles. Although it remained much sharper than that seen at the national level, the pace of contraction was the slowest for six months.

 

Rate of starting salary inflation eases to 15-month low

September data signalled a sustained uplift in salaries awarded to permanent new joiners in Scotland, amid reports that strong demand for staff led to upwards pressure on pay. Though historically sharp, the rate of salary inflation was the slowest for 15 months, and weaker than that recorded for the UK as a whole.

A twenty-second monthly increase in hourly rates for short-term staff in Scotland was recorded in September. According to survey respondents, skills shortages were the primary cause of the latest rise. The rate of temp wage inflation softened to a four-month low, but was nonetheless sharp and outpaced the UK-wide average.

 

Permanent vacancies rise at slower rate

As has been the case in each month since February 2021, demand for permanent staff in Scotland increased in September. The rate of expansion was the softest seen for a year-and-a-half, albeit sharp by historical standards.

IT & Computing recorded the fastest rise in permanent vacancies, followed by Nursing/Medical/Care, while Hotel & Catering saw the slowest.

Temporary vacancies across Scotland continued to rise in September, extending the current sequence of growth to two years.  The rate of increase was the slowest since February 2021, but still sharp overall.

Across the monitored sectors, demand for temp staff was strongest in IT & Computing, followed by Accounts & Financial.

 

Read the full Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs – October 2022 (PDF 391KB)

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