EMPLOYMENT opportunities in Edinburgh are improving, with more posts available than any time in the past three-and-a-half years, new figures have revealed.
Nearly 3400 vacancies were advertised by Jobcentre Plus last month, the joint-highest figure since the start of the recession in 2008.
In contrast, the figure was just 2140 for June 2011 and just 1698 in June 2009.
Only October 2011, when temporary jobs were advertised ahead of the Christmas festivals, had more vacancies than any month since November 2008, with the past 18 months seeing particularly strong job growth.
The number of jobseekers for every vacancy has also reduced from 4.5 per job to 3.5 – significantly lower than the Scotland average of six.
Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, whose department promotes the city to new firms and developers, said: “This is very good news, especially as there has been an upward trend in vacancies for the last 18 months.
“Job creation is at the heart of the council’s new economic strategy, and it is our intention to continue working with partners to support more employment opportunities in the future.”
Despite the increase in the number of available posts, the number of city residents claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) has risen by five per cent on last year, with 11,454 on the benefit as of last month.
The figure does not include those on other types of benefits.
In May, the Evening News reported that the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming JSA for more than 12 months had risen nine-fold in a single year in some areas.
Edinburgh had 2925 claimants, of whom 335 have been jobless for more than a year. The next highest by constituency was East Lothian, which saw a rise of 467 per cent.
Altogether, there are 1410 on JSA in West Lothian.
Business groups said the key challenge would be whether the city was achieving net growth in jobs, when the number of new vacancies exceeds those lost in the finance sector and public sector, among other areas.
Graham Birse, head of policy for Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “We always knew there was durability in the city economy and Oxford University has found Edinburgh is most durable city economy outside of London when it comes to recovery from a recession.
“Having said that it’s still a pretty tough environment, and although it’s very encouraging to see job vacancies going up, the real number is net vacancies versus lost jobs.
“That is something the economic strategy for the city will focus on when it’s launched in September. There have been job losses in the banking sector and ongoing losses in the public sector which are still to be recovered from. We need to redouble our efforts and ensure as many private sector jobs be created as possible.
“A high priority should be in business growth, reducing the burden of taxation and red tape and ensuring the business environment, both locally and nationally, is the best it can be.”