SCOTLAND has seen the highest increase in permanent starting salaries for more than a decade, new research has revealed.
The Bank of Scotland report on jobs for February said there had been a “record increase” in wages for new recruits in the survey’s 11-year history.
Competition among companies to get the best candidates was said to be one reason for the rise.
At the same time, the bank’s labour market barometer - which is designed to provide a snapshot of conditions in the jobs market - reached its second highest-ever level.
It is now just below the record reached in June 2007, with the level in Scotland above that for the UK as whole - as it has been for the past year.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at the Bank of Scotland, said the results indicated business confidence was “clearly increasing” and that economic recovery was continuing.
He stated: “February’s barometer reached 63.9 - the second highest in 11 years of the survey amid a continued surge in demand for staff.
“The number of people appointed to both permanent and temporary jobs rose sharply accompanied by a record increase in permanent job starting salaries. Business confidence is clearly increasing among Scottish firms.
“These results show the recovery in the Scottish economy continuing into 2014 and becoming more established with every month.”
The jobs report, which is based on data from recruitment and employment agencies, revealed that “permanent salary inflation accelerated to a fresh survey high in February, just surpassing the previous record set in December”.
It went on: “Competition for top candidates was reported by consultancies to have boosted starting pay.
“There was also mention of an increase in the number of senior positions being filled.”
The research found the increase in permanent starting wages in Scotland was faster than across the UK as a whole - with February said to be the third month in a row that salary growth in Scotland outstripped the UK.
It said the “surge in demand for staff” from companies had continued last month, with the number of people finding permanent positions rising “sharply”.
Demand for permanent workers was greatest in the accounts and financial sector, followed by the engineering and construction industry.
Meanwhile, demand for temporary staff also rose “sharply”, with this led by the nursing, medical and care sector.
February also saw a rise in average pay rates for temporary and contract staff, according to the research.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “These figures are welcome and signal continued improvement in Scottish job market conditions. This represents the fortieth consecutive month of improvement and the strongest performance since 2007.
“They illustrate the significant economic progress being made in Scotland, and follow recent labour market figures which show that Scotland is outperforming the UK as a whole in terms of employment, unemployment and inactivity rates.
“Scotland’s economy is continuing to recover, creating more jobs and greater economic opportunities for the people of Scotland.”