Employment level and rate (16+) in Scotland increased to the highest level on record

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland 

In work

  • In 2017, 2,618,100 people (aged 16 years and above) were in employment in Scotland, the highest level on record. The employment rate was also the highest on record at 74.3 per cent, although this is below the UK rate of 74.7 per cent.  Since 2007, the employment rate had increased in 18 local authorities, decreased in 13 and remained constant in 1.
  • The gap in the employment rate of the top 3 performing and bottom 3 performing local authorities in Scotland increased by 1.1 percentage points over the year to 16.5 percentage points in 2017.
  • The gender employment gap (which measures the difference between the employment rate for men and women) has decreased from 10.6 percentage points in 2007 to 6.9 percentage points in 2017.
  • The employment rate for young people (aged 16-24 years) had increased in the last year to 59.4 per cent in employment.
  • 8.0 per cent of employees reported hours based underemployment, down from 10.0 per cent in 2012 and down from 8.4 per cent in 2016.
  • 8.5 per cent of people aged 16-19 years were not in employment, education or training in 2017, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points from 2016* and a decrease of 4.7 percentage points from the peak in 2010* (13.2 per cent).
  • In 2017,  the employment rate for those classed as disabled was 45.4 per cent which was lower than the employment rate for those not classed as disabled (81.2 per cent).  In 2017, the employment rate gap was 35.8 percentage points.**
  • The employment rate for the minority ethnic population aged 16-64 was 60.6 per cent, lower than the white population with an employment rate of 75.0 per cent giving a gap in employment rate between minority ethnic and white aged 16 to 64 years of 14.4 percentage points.
  • Scotland has a highly qualified workforce. 48.4 per cent of workers aged 16-64 years in Scotland have further or higher education qualifications (SVQ level 4+ or equivalent).

Not in work

  • In 2017, 111,200 people (aged 16 years and above) were unemployed in Scotland, the lowest level on record. The unemployment rate was also the lowest on record at 4.1 per cent, below the UK rate of 4.4 per cent.  Since 2007, model-based unemployment rates have decreased in 23 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
  • In 2017, 768,900 people (aged 16-64) were economically inactive in Scotland, an increase of 15,100 since 2007. The economic inactivity rate has increased slightly since 2007 to 22.5 per cent, higher than the UK rate of 21.8 per cent. 

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published statistics on Regional Employment Patterns in Scotland from the Annual Population Survey (APS). This publication presents annual estimates for a wide range of labour market indicators across local authority areas in Scotland for 2017.

Trends in Scotland’s labour market are monitored monthly using the quarterly LFS. Monthly briefings.  Monthly briefing for Scotland are available at:


As the quarterly LFS has a smaller sample size it cannot be used to monitor trends below Scotland-level or smaller groups including employment by equality characteristics so the APS remains the best source for measuring Regional Employment Patterns.

About the publication

The APS is an annual version of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the official source of many labour market and skill indicators for Scotland and its local authority areas. The publication provides a summary of data covering key indicators such as employment rates, underemployment (employed people who would be willing to work extra hours), rates of young people not in education, employment or training and economic inactivity.  Employment rate gap by gender, ethnicity and disability.

The data in this publication covers the calendar year, January to December 2017.

The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


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