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20 October 2014, 06:00
The number of people placed in permanent jobs in Scotland has increased for the 19th month in a row, according to a survey.
The rate of growth in September was still strong overall despite the figure easing from July's record high, the latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs revealed.
Permanent starting salaries also continued to rise sharply, with experts saying one factor leading firms to improve their pay packets was a lack of available candidates for vacant positions.
The fall in permanent candidate supply was the second-fastest in the survey's history, just behind August's record.
Stong increases in staff demand were in the nursing, medical and care sector, IT and computing and engineering and construction, the report said.
The bank's labour market barometer read 64.9 in September, down slightly from the previous month's figure of 67.1.
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 50 representing an improvement and anything below a deterioration.
Although at a four-month low, it was still at a level that was among the highest seen in the series' history and above the equivalent UK index for the third month in a row.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at the bank, said: "September's barometer showed a continuing rise in the number of people appointed to both permanent and temporary jobs, although at a lower rate than recent highs.
"Starting salary pay rose strongly reflecting the growing lack of available candidates for vacant positions. The barometer is showing almost four years of monthly improvement resulting in the rate of unemployment in September of 5.5%. The Scottish economic recovery continues.''
Responding to the report, Finance Secretary John Swinney said he welcomed it as "further evidence of a strengthening labour market in Scotland''.
"The latest budget for Scotland outlines key measures that will secure continued growth and further improvements in employment, for example through our £4.5 billion of infrastructure investment in 2015-16 and support for businesses by continuing to deliver the most competitive business tax environment in the UK,'' he said.
The report is based on a monthly survey of more than 100 recruitment and employment consultants.
For the second month in a row, Aberdeen saw the steepest increases in both permanent staff placements and temporary billings, while Edinburgh recorded the slowest rates of growth on both fronts.
Recruitment consultancies in Glasgow registered the most marked deterioration in permanent candidate availability, while the sharpest decrease in temp candidate supply was seen in Dundee.