Employment and unemployment rise in Scotland but the latter is still lower than the UK figure. Wait a minute though, does this have anything to do with the economy or is it more to do with those pesky students?


(c) comedy.co.uk

Reported in the Holyrood Magazine:

‘The number of people out of work in Scotland rose by 9,000 to 113,000 in the three months to August, while the same figures also showed a rise in the employment rate. The Scottish unemployment rate was 0.3 per cent higher than the previous quarter and now stands at 4.1 per cent, while the employment rate rose to 75.3 per cent. Across the UK the number of jobless fell but the rate remains higher than in Scotland at 4.3 per cent.’

The Employability Minister reminded us that Scotland continues to outperform the rest of the UK and the Fraser of Allander Institute in a rare moment of optimism said the figures were ‘robust’. They even went on to say: ‘These data represent some good news for the Scottish economy with continued growth in the employment rate.’ They couldn’t keep it up though and remembered to say something negative: ‘Nevertheless, the relatively fragile economic growth experienced over the past two years in Scotland remains a concern, as do wider indicators of the health of the economy.’ You’ll know, this is guff if you’ve read some of the earlier posts here such as:

Why Scotland’s looming recession is a figment of the imagination and propagandising

Good news for the Scottish economy again! Big rise in permanent jobs and starting salaries climb in Scotland

Foreign investors seem more likely to create jobs in Scotland

‘Wave of new jobs hits the North Sea’

Scottish businesses showing signs of greater health than those in the rest of the UK

But, but, are the June to August figures not more to do with at least some of around a quarter of a million full-time students returning to the job market and don’t they make any other assessment of economic health impossible? University exams finish in May and courses start again in September. There’s no way I can tell, as far as I can see, of knowing how many of them signed on as unemployed, how many got invisible casual jobs and how many of them got proper jobs over the summer months but they are counted if possible. See this:

‘Are full-time students included in the headline youth unemployment figures? Yes, anyone who meets the internationally agreed definition on unemployment is deemed to be unemployed – crucially this is regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in full-time education. As a result, a full-time student looking for part-time work would be counted as unemployed. In Oct-Dec 2011 for example, it is estimated that approximately 35% (36,000) of unemployed 16-24 year-olds in Scotland were also in full-time education.’


Maybe, among non-students, unemployment fell and employment rose even more? I expect a more erudite reader will be on soon to enlighten us all.


6 thoughts on “Employment and unemployment rise in Scotland but the latter is still lower than the UK figure. Wait a minute though, does this have anything to do with the economy or is it more to do with those pesky students?

  1. Ludo Thierry October 19, 2017 / 6:39 pm

    Hi John et al – I was hoping an erudite reader would have visited to clear up your query – but nae luck. I’m the last person to answer stuff regarding stats (I sweat blood trying to get my own small stat efforts down on paper each month). It was a complete mystery to all involved (myself especially) how I ever passed my various NHS Stats courses.

    Those of us in mid-life grew up with very ‘blunt instrument’ employment stats and we took the headline figures as the vital info. Over the years the official statisticians have dramatically improved the scope of the info they capture – but this means we often have to trawl through quite a few sets of figures to get some kind of handle on what is being described.

    The Scot.gov FAQ site you link to is very useful. On that FAQ site it does discuss how the ONS produce ‘supplementary’ stats try to adjust for the school leavers and undergrads who become available for work in the period prior to the new academic term beginning (see below):

    Why are comparisons made over the year and not over the quarter or month?

    LFS estimates for 16-24 year olds in Scotland are not seasonally adjusted. Therefore some of the variation over the month or quarter can be explained by seasonal factors. For example, a seasonal increase in youth unemployment tends to be occur over the summer months as school leavers look for work and students look for summer jobs. This also applies to claimant count figures for 16-24 year olds – the number of young people on Jobseekers Allowance.

    It is recommended to compare youth unemployment estimates in Scotland over the year to minimise the impact of seasonal components. This allows a greater focus on the underlying trend.

    Is it possible to exclude full-time students from the youth unemployment rate calculation?

    ONS currently provide supplementary youth unemployment figures which exclude full-time students in their monthly labour market briefing (UK level only).

    The supplementary rate is calculated in the same way as the headline rate but with full-time students excluded from the numerator and denominator.

    Note that when considering the supplementary unemployment measure above, the equivalent employment measure should also be considered. This data is available for the UK from table A06 from the ONS website: monthly labour market briefing.

    So – the ONS adjusted ‘supplementary rate’ is only calculated at a UK level. It would seem, therefore, that the most useful Scottish info available to consider is the year-on-year rate for the 16-24yr olds (which will capture the vast bulk of those involved). The Holyrood Magazine article reports on this group (below):

    For those aged between 16 and 64, unemployment rose by 6000 to 109,000, with the number in work up 40,000 and the employment rate hitting 75.3 per cent.

    Meanwhile the Scot.gov news item reports:

    Over the year youth unemployment decreased by 1.6 percentage points to 10.6%, lower than the UK at 13.3%.

    What I am suspecting from these figures is that the cohort number is presumably larger than the equivalent 12 months back? Of that larger cohort 40,000 more are in work, whilst 6,000 more are seeking work. The year-on-year comparison unemployment rate has decreased by 1.6% in Scotland. The Employability Minister comments on a reducing unemployment trend in this cohort:

    Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Youth unemployment rates (in Scotland) continue to outperform the UK. This comes on top of us fulfilling our commitment to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent, four years ahead of schedule.”

    Ta, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ludo Thierry October 19, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    Hi John et al – just re-read my stats comment anfd am confirming my own difficulty with stats – Have noticed the most appalling wording in penultimate para – Apologies for causing maximum confusion – The second sentence might better read : “Within the total 16 to 64 population the 16 to 24 cohort year-on-year comparison unemployment rate has decreased by 1.6% in Scotland.” – Real apologies for making such a mess (Jackie Baillie style) of my post – I did say that stats are my worst nightmare!

    Apols, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ludo Thierry October 19, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    Hi all – since I’ve already got deeply lost in the mire of stats it’s good to be able to report that the dear old beeb has (for once) gone out of its way to emphasise that the crime stats it was reporting on today were for England and Wales only. It carried this info in the actual Headline! – but then carried it again in the additional ‘Reality Check’ article they produced regarding Crime Statistics (see below):

    Crime rises by 13% in England and Wales, ONS statistics say

    The number of crimes recorded annually in England and Wales has passed the five million mark for the first time in 10 years, rising by 13%, figures show.

    The Office for National Statistics said crimes in the 12 months to June were up from 4.6 million the previous year.

    It said crime categorised as “violent” rose by 19%, with rises in offences including stalking and harassment.

    The Crime Survey for England and Wales, based on people’s experiences, suggests there were 10.8 million offences.

    The survey, published on the same day as the official crime statistics, includes crimes that people do not report to police. When comparing like-for-like crimes, the survey reported a 9% reduction compared with the previous year.

    In the additional ‘Reality Check’ article they carefully delineate that Scottish crime stats are different – actually pointing out (miracles will never cease) the record lows being recorded (see below):

    Whether crime is rising or falling is hugely important. It can affect how much is spent on policing and other related services, even how people vote. But working out what is happening is not an exact science. Reality Check explores the figures and what they mean.

    When we talk about crime rates we usually look at two things: police records and the number of incidents reported in the annual 38,000-person Crime Survey for England and Wales.

    Neither is wrong but the more difficult question is which best represents how much crime is actually being committed.

    We are talking about England and Wales only, because Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate criminal justice systems.

    Scotland has a similar survey on perceptions of crime that runs every two years, however, and in the most recent one, crimes committed against adults were down 34% since 2008-09 and 16% since the previous survey in 2012-13.

    Crimes recorded by the police in Scotland are at their lowest level since 1974

    Heaven knows I have zilch faith in beeb reporting in general (and minus zilch in beeb Jockland stuff) – but – BUT – I am pleased (and surprised) to see them explicitly draw the distinction here between England+Wales crime stats and the Scottish ones – Here’s hoping this might be the start of a trend. Maybe – just maybe – the scrutiny from John ‘s site and other similar ventures is having a tiny bit of good effect?

    Thanks – and more than enough stats wrangling for one evening, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Taylor Madison Ellis November 9, 2018 / 1:24 pm

    OHHH MY GOSH I know that I’m getting here pretty late, but jeez, I grew up watching the Young Ones! I love how you used them for this article!

    Liked by 1 person

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