The latest labour market data show jobs in Scotland falling by 1,000, and unemployment rising by 7,000 in the latest quarter. Over the year, jobs were up by 16,000 but unemployment was higher by 10,000.
Unfortunately, as I have noted before - here - the change in the number of jobs provides a less than clear picture of change in the labour market and in employer demand for workers.
An examination of changes in types of employment offers more clarity.
What this chart shows is that total employment is, from today's data, about 3 per cent below the 2007-2008 pre-recession peak. Full-time employment is down by more, just over 7 per cent. In contrast, both part-time employment and self-employment have soared. Part-time employment is now 9 per cent above its pre-recession peak while self employment is 11 per cent higher.
These data suggest that the total jobs figures probably overstate the strength of the Scottish labour market. Part-time employment and self employment may be rising for involuntary reasons. Employers uncertain about the future appear to have been shifting demand away from full-time employment to part-time and temporary jobs. Self employment also may have been rising as a second-best alternative to full-time employment.
Can we say more about the state of labour demand in Scotland?
My colleague at the Fraser of Allander Institute Cliff Lockyer suggested I look at total hours worked. The chart is produced here
Since peak employment, the millions of hours worked in Scotland have dropped by over 5 million, or -6.2%. Moreover, there is hardly any evidence of a recovery. The demand for labour seems to have dropped markedly and has been stagnating since mid 2010.
And, again, I think we know why that is the case!
(More detailed analysis of Scottish GDP, the labour market and future prospects will be provided in the Fraser of Allander Institute, Economic Commentary, which will be published on 7th November.)