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16 March 2015, 06:32
The jobs market in Scotland continued to show signs of improvement last month with a sharp rise in permanent placements, according to a new report.
There was also strong demand for staff north of the border in February, the latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs found.
However the report also showed an easing of salary inflation for permanent staff, with the rate of growth the slowest since November 2013.
The Bank of Scotland Labour Market Barometer stood at 59.8 in February, down from 60.0 in January.
However the latest reading was the lowest recorded since August 2013 and below the equivalent index for the UK as a whole for the second straight month.
The barometer measures areas such as levels of staff demand, employment and wages to create a single-figure snapshot of labour market conditions.
The figure is measured against a baseline of 50, with anything above representing an improvement and anything below a deterioration.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, said: "February's Barometer at 59.8 was virtually unchanged from January's 60.0 showing the labour market continuing to improve but at a slightly lower rate than last year.
"The number of people appointed to both permanent and temporary jobs rose as did the number of vacancies. Starting salaries increased for all types of jobs although the rate of increase eased.
"These results show businesses with enough confidence to invest for the future and suggest the Scottish economy continues to grow in early 2015.''
The report noted a further sharp increase in the demand for permanent staff in Scotland, the most marked in four months.
However the rate of growth in demand for temporary staff continued to ease, slowing for the fifth time in the past seven months to the weakest for almost two years.
The rate of growth of permanent placements accelerated from January's recent low, reaching the fastest for four months, while placements for temporary staff returned to growth in February.
The strongest increase in demand for permanent staff across Scotland was in Nursing/Medical/Care, while the weakest was in Blue Collar.
The most marked increases in temporary job openings were recorded in Nursing/Medical/Care and IT & Computing respectively. Executive & Professional saw a marginal fall in temporary vacancies.
The availability of candidates for permanent vacancies again fell sharply in February, although at a much slower rate compared with the previous month.
The rate of decline in temporary candidate availability was the slowest since last April, but substantial nonetheless, the report found.