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Despite concerns over slowing growth, Scotland’s job market continues to improve.

The latest Bank of Scotland Report on jobs out this week shows that permanent placements rose at a sharp and accelerated rate in December - alongside a near-record rise in starting salaries.

The Bank’s labour market barometer shows that demand for staff continued to grow strongly, though candidate availability is still an issue. There was a loss of momentum in the availability of temporary jobs, with billings from contract staff rising at the slowest rate in eight months and hourly wage inflation also easing.

The barometer read 63.2 in December, up from November’s 60.1, pointing to a marked improvement in the health of Scotland’s labour market, though progress was slower than seen around the middle of the year. The barometer moved back above the equivalent index for the UK as a whole, which sank to a 13-month low in December.

The increase in starting salaries is particularly heartening given concerns of a protracted pause in pay rates and the resulting squeeze on household incomes.

The most marked increase in permanent job openings in Scotland was in IT & Computing, followed by Executive & Professional. The strongest increase in demand for temporary staff was again in Nursing/Medical/Care. The weakest was in Executive & Professional.

Said Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae, “December’s Barometer reversed much of the loss in November with the overall reading showing a strong performance in the month. The number of people appointed to jobs rose with particularly strong growth in appointments to permanent jobs. The number of vacancies rose at a faster pace while staring salaries rose at near-record levels.

“These results provide further evidence that the economic recovery continued at the end of last year and looks set to carry on into 2015.

Scotland Office Minister David Mundell commented “Going into 2015 Scotland’s economy is expected to grow and build on two successive years of economic growth. The challenges our oil and gas sector are facing and the impact this is having on jobs underline the serious challenges which remain for our economy.

“With the large single domestic market, wider tax base and economic stability that comes from being part of the UK, we can create the conditions to support business and our vital industries and help them create more opportunities for Scots across the country.”