The latest labour market data show the situation up to end September. The data clearly show the slowdown that has recently occurred in the Scottish economy. Some comfort can be perhaps be obtained from the latest quarter's data, which could be interpreted as showing that the slowdown is coming to an end. I think, however, that would be a premature conclusion until we see more data.
Employment did rise by 3,000 in the latest quarter and by 9,000 over the year. But as the chart shows there is clear evidence that job creation has been slowing down in Scotland leading employment to fall further behind the UK. So, by Jul-Sep 2015 UK employment was 5% above its pre-recession peak whereas Scottish employment was only 2.1% above.
The same conclusion can be drawn by looking at the unemployment rate which has now risen to 6% in Scotland compared to 5,3% in the UK. The next chart shows the rate in the two jurisdictions.
What is revealing from the chart is that the unemployment rate in the UK has now moved below where it was just before the recession started whereas in Scotland it is more than 40% higher.
The next chart, which graphs the employment to working population ratio shows that there is still a lot of 'slack' in the Scottish labour market.
The ratio stand at nearly 3% below its pre-recession peak. On this basis we should not expect there to be much pressure on wages in the Scottish economy.
This downturn may be the effect of the sharp fall in the price of oil and if so we should expect this to begin to unwind soon with job creation picking up and unemployment moving on a downward path again. But if not, then we might be witnessing the end of the recovery.