Scottish job vacancies rise as business confidence ‘at new high’
Vacancies for permanent jobs in Scotland have risen at their fastest rate in eight years, according to a new survey.
The Bank of Scotland said its latest labour market report was evidence the Scottish economy was improving.
A separate report also suggested business confidence levels are at a record high.
Accountants and business advisers BDO LLP said optimism among firms had reached its highest level for 22 years.
The Bank of Scotland report on jobs for January showed marked increases in both temporary and permanent jobs in the country.
Permanent vacancies rose at the fastest rate since April 2006.
Driving the increase was a strengthening demand for both permanent and temporary staff.
This demand, coupled with a drop in the number of applicants for each position, helped contribute to a strong increase in salaries, the bank said.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, said: “January showed a further marked improvement in Scotland’s labour market returning the barometer to the pre-crisis levels of 2007.
“Business confidence has hit record highs as we enter 2014 and we expect the economy to grow rapidly in the first half of the year”
“The number of people appointed to both permanent and temporary jobs increased rapidly while vacancies rose sharply across all sectors. Salaries rose strongly for those appointed to permanent jobs demonstrating increasing business confidence.
“The recovery in the Scottish economy is not only continuing but is strengthening as we enter 2014.”
Finance Secretary John Swinney said the “welcome figures” in the Bank of Scotland report on jobs “suggest that conditions in Scotland’s labour market are continuing to improve”.
He added: “These positive results follow recent GDP statistics which showed Scotland’s economy is enjoying its sixth consecutive quarter of growth, with the rate of growth in output accelerating in the most recent quarters.
“The continued progress in Scotland’s economic recovery is helping to create more jobs and opportunities, with Scotland outperforming the UK with higher employment, lower unemployment and lower inactivity rates.”
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: “Creating jobs and getting people into employment is central to the UK government’s plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy.
“Today’s Bank of Scotland report on jobs showing a rise in the number of people in permanent jobs together with increases in job vacancies and starting salaries reflects the fact that this plan is working.”
The BDO optimism index, which looks at how well firms expect to perform over the next six months, increased to a new high of 103.8 in January, compared to 88.9 in the same month last year.
Martin Gill, the head of BDO LLP in Scotland, said: “Business confidence has hit record highs as we enter 2014 and we expect the economy to grow rapidly in the first half of the year.”
Optimism in the manufacturing sector was at a record level, according to the report, while for the service sector – which accounts for almost three quarters of the economy – confidence was also on the rise.
There was an increase in businesses expecting to hire new staff, with a rise in the employment index. This stood at 101.3 in January, the highest level since August 2008, with the research saying this indicates “job creation is likely to exceed trend growth over the coming months”.
Mr Gill added: “Companies are raising headcounts in response to rising client demand and the data suggests that the unemployment rate is likely to fall below the Bank of England’s 7.0% threshold for considering raising interest rates in the very near future.”