Scotland's Labour Market: People, Places, and Regions - Statistics from the Annual Population Survey 2019

Summary publication of results from the Annual Population Survey 2019, presenting analysis on the labour market, education and training.

This document is part of a collection

Key Points

All data is for January 2019 to December 2019 and therefore precedes the impact of government policies related to COVID-19 implemented from March 2020 onward.


  • In 2019, in Scotland, 2,663,900 people (aged 16 and over) were in employment and the employment rate (16 to 64) was 74.8 per cent, this was a record high level and rate of employment however, below the UK rate of 75.6 per cent.
  • Since 2009, the employment rate had increased in 28 local authorities and decreased in 4.
  • The gender employment gap (which measures the difference between the employment rates for men and women) had decreased from 8.2 percentage points in 2009 to 6.3 percentage points in 2019.
  • Since 2009, employment levels for 25 to 34, 50 to 64, and 65 and over have increased with those in employment aged 65 and over almost doubling, rising from 54,800 to 89,100.
  • In 2019, the employment rate for the disabled population was 49.0 per cent which was significantly lower than the employment rate for those not classed as disabled (81.6 per cent). In 2019, the disability employment gap was 32.6 percentage points, lower than the gap the year before which was 35.5 percentage points.
  • The employment rate for the minority ethnic population aged 16 to 64 was 59.3 per cent, lower than the white population with an employment rate of 75.7 per cent giving a gap in the employment rate between minority ethnic and white aged 16 to 64 years of 16.4 percentage points.

Industry Sector

The main source of statistics on employment by sector is business surveys rather than the APS, however, the APS allows a comparison of detailed characteristics of people who self-report that they are employed in these sectors. This shows:

  • Young people (16 to 24) make up a comparatively high concentration of the workforce in: "Accommodation and Food Services"; and "Wholesale, Retail, Repair of Vehicles" while workers aged 50 and over make up a comparatively high concentration of the workforce in "Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing"; and "Transport and Storage".
  • Workers with long-term conditions (including cardiovascular, respiratory, diabetes, and progressive illness) make up a comparatively high concentration of the workforce in: "Transport and Storage"; and "Water Supply, Sewage, Waste".

Type of Employment

  • 1,957,000 people were in full-time employment in 2019 and 703,900 were in part-time employment.
  • 329,600 people in employment were self-employed, the highest level since the series began.


  • 11.6 per cent (388,200) of the population in Scotland aged 16 to 64 have low or no qualifications (SCQF Level 4 or below).
  • 37.2 per cent (814,000) of workers in Scotland aged 25 to 64 in 2019 were graduates (SCQF Level 9+), the highest on record.


  • In 2019, 95,800 people (aged 16 and over) were unemployed in Scotland. The rate decreased to 3.5 below the UK rate of 3.9 per cent.
  • Since 2009, model-based unemployment rates have decreased in all 32 local authorities.
  • 41.8 per cent of unemployed people in Scotland have been unemployed for 6 months or more.
  • 8.6 per cent of people aged 16 to 19 were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2019, almost the same as in 2018 and a decrease of 4.6 percentage points from the peak in 2010* (13.2 per cent).

Economic Inactivity

  • Over 53.7 per cent of the 773,000 economically inactive people (16 to 64) in Scotland were inactive because they were long-term sick or students in education. Increases in the level of inactivity since 2009 have been driven by increases in the number of students and the "other**" category.
  • The inactivity rate for those aged 16 to 64 in Scotland in 2019 was 22.5 per cent, higher than the UK rate of 21.2 per cent.
  • Since 2009, economic activity rates have increased for those aged 16 to 24 and decreased for those aged 50 to 64.
  • Economic inactivity rates were highest in Glasgow City, Inverclyde, and Dundee City.
  • 20.4 per cent (157,800) of economically inactive(16 to 64) would like to work, the lowest percentage since the series began in 2004.
  • 148,500 people aged 16 and over have never worked (excluding students aged 16 to 24 years in full-time education).


1. All statistics, charts and tables presented in this publication are sourced from the Annual Population Survey January-December datasets produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

2. Map data: Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024655.

* Statistically Significant.

** "Other" reasons for inactivity include: "Other", "No reason given", and "Waiting on the result of a job application".



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