Scotland's Labour Market Insights: April 2024

Insights from a range of labour market data sources for Scotland, including employment, unemployment and economic inactivity estimates by protected characteristics. This release was previously named Scotland's Labour Market Overview.

Data and Methodology

Further to the Labour Market Trends publication that was released on 16 April 2024, this publication provides more detailed trends and analysis for topics of interest from a wider range of labour market data sources for Scotland. Trends are shown for Scotland with some comparisons provided with the UK. 

Figure 18: Measures and data sources presented in this publication

Infographic showing measures and data sources included in this publication for people in work and people not in work

Infographic showing measures and data sources included in this publication for  people in work and people not in work

Note that the majority of participants receiving employment support were unemployed or inactive before joining No One Left Behind, however a small proportion were employed when starting.

The statistics in this release are Accredited Official Statistics or Official Statistics in Development. Information on the data sources is given in the Data sources section.

Where can labour market data for Scotland be accessed

The data contained in this release can be obtained from the following sources:

Table 2: Table of data sources and where the data can be accessed

Data Source

Where data can be accessed

ONS Regional Labour Market publication

Labour market in the regions of the UK Statistical bulletins - Office for National Statistics

Quarterly ONS Annual Population Survey

Regional labour market: headline indicators for Scotland - Office for National Statistics (

Monthly HMRC Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) – Payrolled employees and median pay

Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, UK Statistical bulletins - Office for National Statistics (

Weekly Adzuna Online Job Adverts

Online job advert estimates - Office for National Statistics (

Further labour market information for Scotland from the ONS Annual Population Survey is also published on Nomis

Data sources

ONS have published a Comparison of labour market data sources methodology document which compares data sources and discusses some of the main differences.

ONS Labour Force Survey

The Labour Force Survey is a survey of UK households collected and published by the Office for Nationals Statistics. Information are obtained from a sample survey and are therefore subject to some error. LFS estimates are currently badged as official statistics in development until further review.

ONS Annual Population Survey

The APS combines results from the ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS) with the English, Welsh and Scottish LFS boosts. This provides a larger annual sample of households. Compared with the quarterly LFS, the annual data is statistically more robust. Estimates for local areas and smaller populations (including those aged 16 to 24 years) are more accurate as a result.

The APS is the Accredited Official Statistics source for labour market indicators by region and smaller groups of the population.

The population totals used for the latest APS estimates use projected growth rates from Real Time Information data for UK, EU and non-EU populations based on 2021 patterns. The total population used for the APS therefore does not take into account any changes in migration, birth rates, death rates, and so on, since June 2021, so level estimates may be under- or over-estimating the true values and should be used with caution. Estimates of rates will, however, be robust.

ONS Annual Population Survey (APS) estimates have not been reweighted to the new population estimates used for the LFS. Consequently, all APS estimates remain weighted to the previous population totals, which will be inconsistent with those used for ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS) in the latest periods.

APS estimates remain accredited official statistics at this time. However, ONS are carrying out analysis to assess the impact of falling sample sizes on the quality of APS estimates.

Labour Market Transformation

On 2 November 2023, ONS published an article on the Labour Force Survey: planned improvements and its reintroduction. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been facing the challenge of falling response rates for household surveys, as have other comparable countries. ONS have therefore developed a comprehensive plan to address these concerns and to re-introduce the Labour Force Survey. The Annual Population Survey is partly composed of Labour Force Survey estimates.

ONS are transforming the LFS. They are publishing Labour market transformation articles providing updates on the transformation of labour market statistics.

ONS also welcome any feedback on this latest update and their plans. Please email them at to tell them what you think.

Scottish Governent are stakeholders in the transformation of the labour force survey. To provide any feedback on labour market statistics for Scotland please feedback to

Other sources

This publication also contains HMRC PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) on median monthly earnings and payrolled employees. These are classed as Official Statistics in Development.


This release covers people paid through the HMRC’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system where their pay is reported through the Real Time Information (RTI) system.

Information presented in this release are experimental monthly estimates of the number of payrolled employees and their median earnings. It includes UK and geographical regions (NUTS1) early estimates of payrolled employment and median pay for the most recent month.

Statistics in this release are based on people who are employed in at least one job paid through HMRC’s PAYE system and the monthly estimates reflect the average for each day of the calendar month.

The publication and background information can be accessed on the ONS website.

Adzuna Online Job adverts

Adzuna is an online job search engine who collate information from thousands of different sources in the UK. These range from direct employers’ websites to recruitment software providers to traditional job boards thus providing a comprehensive view of current online job adverts. Adzuna is working in partnership with ONS and have made data available for analysis including online advert job descriptions, job titles, job locations, job categories and salary information. The data provided are a point-in-time estimate of all job adverts indexed in Adzuna’s job search engine during the point of data extraction. For more information see:

Online job advert estimates publication, ONS

Reliability of estimates

Estimates from the ONS Annual Population Survey for January to December 2004 through to January to December 2023 are presented. For the latest time period, the sample size is around 8,500 households in Scotland.

The ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS) are sample surveys. As such, these estimates are subject to an associated sampling error that decreases as the sample size increases. It is the nature of sampling variability that the smaller a group is the (proportionately) less precise an estimate is. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have published a detailed guidance note on this. Shading is one method used by ONS to indicate where estimates should be used with caution. The Accredited Official Statistics marking for the APS reflects the larger sample size for headline estimates of Labour Market indicators for smaller groups of the population for Scotland.

Employees who were furloughed between April 2020 and the end of September 2021 were classed as employed, but temporarily away from work. This is consistent with labour market definitions outlined by ONS.

Confidence Intervals

Confidence limits can be used to assess the range of values that the true value lies between. 95 per cent confidence intervals for rates are included in all tables and charts.

What does the 95 per cent confidence limit mean?

If, for example, we have an APS estimate and confidence limit of 63 per cent ± 0.27, this means that 19 times out of 20 we would expect the true rate to lie between 62.73 per cent and 63.27 per cent. Only in exceptional circumstances (1 in 20 times) would we expect the true rate to be outside the confidence interval around the APS estimate. Thus the smaller the confidence limits, the more reliable the estimate is.

The confidence limits use a design factor of 1, which may not be likely in some cases but given the lack of further information an average design factor of 1 is assumed to be reasonable. Further information on estimating confidence intervals can be found in the LFS user guidance.

Statistical Significance

Statistical significance is based on 95 per cent Confidence Intervals. Statistical significance means that the change was large enough that it is unlikely to have resulted only from the variable nature of the sample.

Quality Assurance

Annual Population Survey microdata is collected and produced by the ONS. Scottish Government statisticians receive early access to perform quality assurance checks.

When producing estimates for this publication, Scottish Government statisticians conduct in-depth quality assurance.

These checks include:

  • analysis of the sample size obtained in the collection process
  • production of estimates from the microdata using statistical software and relevant coding
  • cross checking of coding between team members

Further checks relate to:

  • crosschecking historical time series data with previously published results
  • benchmarking the results against other relevant data sources


If you have any enquiries relating to Labour Market Statistics then please contact us at:

Telephone: 0131 244 6773

Labour Market Statistics
Office of the Chief Economic Adviser
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

We welcome any comments on both the format and content of the website, including any problems you may encounter.

You may also contact the Statistician Group Enquiries for general information.

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