Permanent job appointments in Scotland rose for the first time in a year, while temp billing increased for the fifth straight month, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs.
Figures for January shown the growth was only mild, but were nonetheless a stark contrast to the unprecedented downturns seen last spring.
Meanwhile, candidate availability rose further, with panellists attributing the latest upturn to redundancies, although the rates of increase slowed noticeably on the month.
Upwards pay pressures persisted into the new year, as highlighted by further rises in starting pay. That said, both salaries and temp wages increased at softer rates compared to December.
The rise in permanent staff appointments in January ended an 11-month sequence of decline.
Firms, particularly in the IT and computing, had resumed hiring efforts amid improved market conditions, according to survey respondents.
Nonetheless, trends between Scotland and the UK diverged during January, as a renewed downturn in placements was recorded at the national level.
The upturn in temp billings across Scotland continued into 2021. Though strong, the rate of increase slowed noticeably from that seen at the end of last year. Respondents noted that firms in some sectors had cut back on hiring due to lockdown measures.
The sharp increase in available candidates was attributed to the latest upturn in COVID-19 related redundancies, leading to a higher number of candidates searching for work.
Average hourly pay rates for short-term staff across Scotland rose again in January.
The rate of increase slowed from that seen in December, but was nonetheless solid and in line with the series long-run average.
As was the case for starting salaries, data for the UK highlighted downward pressure on temp pay in January, with wages falling marginally overall.
Sebastian Burnside, Chief Economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Scotland’s job market posted a good performance at the start of the year, with hiring activity rising for both permanent and temporary staff.
“The rates of increase were only mild, but still pointed to a solid improvement from the substantial reductions seen during the spring of 2020.
“The upturn in permanent staff appointments was also a marked contrast to the decline recorded across the UK as a whole during January.
“With more candidates placed in roles, the supply of staff increased at a slower pace, although there were still reports that redundancies were driving the net increase in job seekers.
“Although conditions seem to be improving, the labour market is not out of the woods yet, with plenty of lost ground to make up.
“Nonetheless, tentative steps towards a recovery, despite stricter lockdown measures, is welcome news.”