This indicator is about Scotland's position on labour market participation as the top performing country in the UK and is measured through a comparison of the employment rates in the 4 constituent countries of the UK.

Source of Data:

Progress against the Economic participation target is measured using the Labour Force Survey (LFS). LFS data are collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and are available from 1992.

For comparisons within the UK, this indicator is calculated as the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in employment.

Headline data from the Labour Force Survey are published each month on a rolling 3 month basis by the Office for National Statistics. This data is seasonally adjusted.

The Labour Market Statistics First Release published by ONS contains a regional labour market summary, including data to measure employment rates by country - Table HI00.

Data are also published on the National Online Manpower Information System

(NOMIS) website (


Participation is defined as covering those in employment. For comparisons within the UK, this will be measured using the headline employment rate, which measures the proportion of the population aged 16 to 64 (for both men and women) in employment.

Employment is defined as people who are employees, self employed, on government training programmes or unpaid family workers.

Changes and Issues:

Prior to August 2010, the Economic participation indicator was based on the traditional working-age population, defined as males aged 16-64 and females aged 16-59. In August 2010, this was revised to be based on the definition for the new headline employment rate which covers the population aged 16 to 64 for both males and females. This new definition has been applied to the back series to ensure consistent comparisons.

This change was implemented as the female state pension age is now gradually increasing from 60 to 65, over a ten year period from April 2010 to 2020. As a result, the headline employment rates as published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are now based on the population aged 16 to 64 for both males and females.

The change to the definition was made in August 2010, as the April to June 2010 LFS dataset was released at this time, and the female state pension age started to change from April 2010.

Labour market statistics are revised periodically in line with the release of more up-to-date mid-year population estimates. The most recent revision took place on 15 July 2021, when LFS quarterly data from Jan-Mar 2020 through to Jan-Mar 2021 was reweighted. At the time when this data was originally released, survey responses were weighted to 2018-based official population projections and therefore reflected demographic trends which pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic. These estimates have now been reweighted to new populations using growth rates from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information. Consequently, estimates from Jan-Mar 2020 to Jan-Mar 2021 may differ from previously released results.

Further information on this reweighting can be found at

Criteria for Change:

This evaluation is based on:

  • any difference in the gap within +/- 1 percentage points of the equivalent quarter in the previous year suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change.
  • a movement of 1 percentage point or more in Scotland's favour suggests that the position is improving,
  • whereas a movement of 1 percentage point or more to Scotland's detriment suggests that the position is worsening.

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