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Labour market

The labour market in Scotland includes employment, what people do, and their economic activity.

Work and employment

In 2011, 2.5 million people aged between 16 and 74 were employed.

That's 62.8% of the 4 million people aged 16 to 74 in Scotland.

Just over half of those people worked more than 38 hours per week in their main job. 39.1% worked between 38 and 48 hours a week, and 11.7% worked 48 hours a week or more.

It was more common for women to work part-time than men. 43.8% of women aged 16 to 74 worked part-time, compared to 13.1% of men.

What people do

What people do

Health and social work and retail employed the most people in Scotland.

About 15% of Scotland's workforce, or 377,000 people, worked in health and social work and retail.

Education employed about 8.4% of Scotland's workforce. Manufacturing and constructing each employed about another 8% of working people in Scotland.

Ethnic groups

17% of people in the White Scottish ethnic group worked in the manufacturing and construction industries. While 13% of ethnic minorities were employed in these industries.

28% of the African ethnic group were employed in the health and social work industry. That proportion rose to 41% among African people aged 50 to 64.


The proportion of people working in retail decreased with age. 35.3% of employed people aged 16 to 19 worked in retail, compared to 12.5% of people aged 45 to 64.


82% of people working in caring, leisure and other service occupations were female.

90% of people working in skilled trades occupations were male.

Economic activity

31.0% of people aged between 16 and 74 were not working or looking for work.

This is called being economically inactive.

People who are economically inactive may be:

  • retired
  • stay-at-home parents
  • too sick to work

More women were economically inactive than men.

6.2% of women were economically inactive because they were looking after their home or family. 0.8% of men were economically inactive for the same reason.

Almost 200,000 people aged 16 to 74 had never worked or were in long-term unemployment. About half of these people had no qualifications.

Explore Scotland's Census

This page only touches on the data available on Scotland's labour market. The data from Scotland's Census is easy to use and free for everyone.

Area overviews

View and compare simple census results for postcodes, towns, council areas, or all of Scotland.

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Analytical reports

Read detailed reports that make use of census data to explore various topics.