SCOTS are enjoying the highest pay rises across Britain with an inflation-busting 6.3 per cent hike for the average worker in the past 12 months alone.
According to official figures, wage levels in Scotland are now the highest in the UK outside of London and the south-east, despite widespread pay restraint as the economy continues to struggle.
The strength of the financial sector in Edinburgh and the resilience of the North Sea oil and gas sector – which is based in Aberdeen but has engineering spin-offs across Scotland – are believed to have been major factors in wage growth north of the Border. The size of the public sector, compared to England, is also thought to have played a part in keeping wage levels steady.
And men have fared better than women in the workforce, according to the government statistics. The average full-time employee in Scotland makes a gross wage of £536 a week but male employees make an average of £579, leaving them more than £100 a week better off than women on £467.
London still has the best pay in the UK, with an average weekly wage of £696, while the south-east and east of England have rates of £621 and £589.
Professor Mike Danson, of Heriot Watt University’s Management school, said Scotland’s economy had stayed closer to the performance of London and the south-east while most other English regions had floundered.
Scotland also had a better qualified workforce and there was less discrimination against women, with the gap in gender pay relatively smaller in Scotland than elsewhere.
Danson said: “Universities are more important in Scotland, so the education sector outside the public sector is more important, and although it’s not that big whisky and food are also important.”
Danson added that although the financial services sector had experienced widespread job losses in the aftermath of the banking crisis, it remained one of Scotland’s strongest industries. The distribution of wages across men and women was also less variable than in England, particularly London. He said: “A lot of people there are on very high wages which skews their wages up.”
Owen Kelly, chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise said: “Despite the challenges faced by the industry in recent years, the financial services industry in Scotland continues to perform strongly, owing much to its diversity.
“While we have seen jobs decline in some areas we have seen growth in others, such as asset servicing and fund management, which provide highly-skilled employment.”