Commenting on the release of Labour Market Figures this morning, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“The latest UK labour market statistics illustrate a jobs market which is continually breaking records, while highlighting some of the persistent challenges present in the economy.
“Concerns remain around pay growth and productivity. The latest data has shown that the rate of pay growth is slowing, with pay remaining below the pre-downturn peak for UK workers. It appears that the tight labour market is yet to have a commensurate impact on worker’s pay. The Bank of England justified the latest base rate rise partially through the expectation of higher wages for UK workers, but the data shows that these forecasted rises remain elusive.
“The latest productivity estimate is encouraging in that it shows increased output per hour across the UK, particularly driven by services and growth in retail, aided by the warm weather. The rise in productivity is the highest quarterly increase since late 2016, but productivity increases remain weak historically.
“The unemployment rate across the UK has not been lower since 1975. In Scotland, although the unemployment rate has decreased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter, Scotland is one of only four regions in the UK to observe an increase over the year on unemployment, of 0.3 percentage points. However, the rate remains close to historic lows, at 4.2%. In further positive news, the youth unemployment rate across the UK has fallen to 11.3%, the lowest rate observed since records began in 1992, with Scotland’s rate even lower.
“We remain optimistic that decisive actions to expand the UK’s future industrial capacity, such as the recently announced investments in key manufacturing hubs, as well as an ambitious Programme for Government from the Scottish Government, will set our economy on the right path towards sustainable long-term growth. It is only by addressing some of the fundamental challenges around productivity, that we will see the sustained pay growth across Scotland that will benefit all of civic society.”