Income and employment: availability of work

In 2015/16, 200,000 working-age Scottish adults in relative poverty (before housing costs) lived in households where no-one was in employment. Chart 1 shows long-term trends in employment rates for men and women in Scotland. Employment rates for men declined from the early 1970s to the late 1980s: they then began to increase, though it was only in 2007 that they exceeded 80%. Employment rates for women increased until the late 1970s then declined until 1984, before increasing steadily.

For both genders, employment rates declined sharply during the recessions of the early 1980s, early 1990s and late 2000s. Employment rates have been increasing for men since 2011 and for women since 2012. By 2015, female employment rates had surpassed the levels seen before the 2008/09 recession (though they fell slightly in 2016).  Male employment rates have yet to recover to their 2007 peak.

Using data from the Employers Skills Survey, we can also describe inequalities in access to employment by showing the number of people who were ILO unemployed per 100 vacancies, by broad occupation and by Scottish region. Rates above 100 indicate a weaker chance to work; rates below it, a stronger chance to work.

In Scotland in 2015, there were 158,800 people who were available and looking for work compared to 73,600 vacancies: a rate of 215 unemployed people for every 100 vacancies.

Comparing the reported previous occupations of the unemployed against vacancies, demand for labour was strong for caring occupations (58 unemployed per 100 vacancies), professionals (67 per 100 vacancies) and associate professionals (95 per 100) but weaker for those looking for jobs in elementary occupations (275 unemployed per 100 vacancies), managers (261 per 100) and sales and customer service occupations (227 per 100) Chart 2.

There are also regional differences in demand for labour. In 2015, demand for labour was strong in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire (78 unemployed people per 100 vacancies).  In all other regions of Scotland, the number of unemployed people exceeded the number of vacancies, with demand especially weak in Ayshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Fife (Chart 3).

This analyses suggests that spatial and occupational inequalities in demand for labour persist in Scotland.

Please note: If you require the most up-to-date data available, please check the data sources directly as new data may have been published since these data pages were last updated. Although we endeavour to ensure that the data pages are kept up-to-date, there may be a time lag between new data being published and the relevant ScotPHO web pages being updated.