By Kristy Dorsey

The number of permanent staff appointments in Scotland declined for the 11th month in a row in December, according to a new report, though the rate of the downturn eased “noticeably”.

Meanwhile, data from the Report on Jobs produced by the Royal Bank of Scotland showed a marked rise in temporary billings amid the quickest increase in demand for short-term staff since the latter half of 2019. Upward pressure on starting salaries also became apparent in December, with permanent salaries rising marginally for the first time since March, while temp wage inflation was the highest in more than a year.

However, redundancies related to the Covid pandemic continued to push up the supply of permanent job seekers for the seventh month in a row. There was also marked rise in the supply of temporary staff, up from a seven-month low in November.


Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said the evidence indicates that firms are turning to short-term staff to fill vacancies while the economic outlook remains unclear. Despite some modest improvements last month, ongoing restrictions and lockdown measures continue to stifle hiring activity.

“With the recent announcement of a national lockdown in Scotland, job seekers are likely to have a much more challenging time in the months ahead,” he said.

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“Permanent appointments and temp billings declined at record rates amid the lockdown in spring last year, and similar measures may bring a further unprecedented drop in hiring activity while case numbers are brought under control and the vaccine [is] rolled out.”

The trends in Scotland were predominantly in line with those for the whole of the UK, with one notable exception: permanent placements at UK level rose for the first time since September, compared to the continuing decline in Scotland.