The latest labour market data are, on the face of it, encouraging for Scotland. Unemployment fell by 4,000 in March-May, with the rate falling to 8% below the UK rate of 8.1%. Jobs rose by 9,000. Unemployment fell and jobs rose in the UK too.
These data sit uneasily with the Scottish GDP data published today for the first quarter and with the UK GDP data. Both show falling GDP, with a stronger fall in the UK.
It does seem unlikely that unemployment will continue to fall and jobs to increase if GDP falls further, or even remains flat, in the second quarter.
But it also remains possible that the actually demand for labour may also be falling even if jobs are rising and unemployment is falling!
The chart below shows what has been happening to total, full-time, part-time, temporary employment and self employment. The chart uses the latest data published today.
The data are published for years rolled forward quarterly, so the series is effectively much smoothed. What the chart shows is the continuing decline in full-time employment. Set against that is a continuing rise in both part-time employment and the self employed. Temporary employment is volatile but has risen since the start of the Great Recession and rose again recently.
The demand for labour may, therefore, be tracking GDP more closely than would appear to be the case from the aggregate jobs data.