Perth and Kinross – Economy

Key Facts

  • We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Scotland at 1.3% (DWP 2017)
  • We have one of the highest rates of self-employment at 46% in Scotland (NOMIS 2016).
  • On any given day, around 3,300 people commute to better paid jobs in neighbouring areas (Annual Population Survey).
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of young people entering positive destinations (further education or employment) (Skills Development Scotland).
  • Almost 25% of workers are paid less than the voluntary higher Living Wage.
  • Within our area, earnings are around 9% less than the Scottish average, this is partly down to our rural economy in many parts of Perth and Kinross.
  • 1 in 9 working-age households are reliant on some form of benefit.
  • 14% of our households are classified as being amongst the most socially and financially challenged in the UK (Fairness Commission).
  • More people are degree-qualified in Perth in Kinross and fewer people have no qualifications compared to the rest of Scotland (Census).
  • Travel costs and transport in rural areas can limit people’s ability to seek and maintain work.
  • Food and drink is a major employer in the area, making up 4.8% of our area’s income. It is Scotland’s most important export industry with exports growing by £421 million in 2016, to a record £5.5 billion – £1.5 billion in food and £4billion in the whisky industry (PKC).
  • Tourism is a major employer locally. The exchange rate for the British pound could impact upon the attractiveness of the UK as a tourist destination for non-UK visitors.
  • Our retail sector is changing, like all other towns and city centres, is experiencing major difficulties as shopping habits change and more products are bought on–line.


Employment and Economy

Perth and Kinross located in the centre of Scotland is well connected to all the main cities in Scotland which is a key reason for businesses to locating here. There are 92,100 people in Perth and Kinross aged between 16-64 (61.4% of the population) NOMIS. 78,000 people are ‘economically active’ with 78,600 people in the workforce. 13,100 people in Perth and Kinross are self employed  (12.6% of the population) which is significantly higher than Scotland as a whole (8%). People are more likely to be self employed in the rural areas of Perthshire. 67.2% of people working are full time and 31.1% of workers are  part-time.

Employment by Occupation

OccupationPerth & KinrossScotland
All people aged 16 to 74 in employment72,3042,516,895
1. Managers, directors and senior officials10.5%8.4%
2. Professional occupations16.4%16.8%
3. Associate professional and technical occupations12.4%12.6%
4. Administrative and secretarial occupations10.0%11.4%
5. Skilled trades occupations14.1%12.5%
6. Caring, leisure and other service occupations8.9%9.7%
7. Sales and customer service occupations9.3%9.3%
8. Process, plant and machine operatives6.4%7.7%
9. Elementary occupations12.1%11.6%

Employment by Industry

There are a wide range of industries across Perth and Kinross given its urban rural split.

Energy is a key industry for the area with SSE Energy being based in Perth. There are also 16 hydro-electric power stations in the River Tay water shed area, which is why a higher proportion of people are employed in this industry in Perth and Kinross than the rest of Scotland. Construction employs 6.6% of people which is a key sector given our growing population and the need for new houses.

Perth and Kinross is a tourist hot spot with 1.9 million visitors each year, accommodation and food employs 13.1% compared to 8.2% of people in the rest of Scotland. Employment in this sector is higher in the Highland, Strathtay, Strathearn and Strathallan area.

Employee jobs (2016)    
Perth and KinrossPerth and Kinross (%)Scotland (%)Great Britain (%)
Total employee jobs61,000--
Employee jobs by industry
B : Mining and quarrying3001.30.2
C : Manufacturing3,5005.77.28.1
D : Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply1,7502.90.80.4
E : Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities5000.80.70.7
F : Construction4,0006.65.54.6
G : Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles10,00016.414.515.3
H : Transportation and storage2,0003.34.34.9
I : Accommodation and food service activities7,00011.57.47.5
J : Information and communication7001.134.2
K : Financial and insurance activities1,5002.53.53.6
L : Real estate activities1,0001.61.41.6
M : Professional, scientific and technical activities3,5005.76.98.6
N : Administrative and support service activities4,0006.67.59
O : Public administration and defence; compulsory social security3,5005.76.34.3
P : Education5,0008.27.78.9
Q : Human health and social work activities8,00013.116.513.3
R : Arts, entertainment and recreation2,2503.73.12.5
S : Other service activities1,25022.12.1


The median weekly earnings in Perth and Kinross is £518.00, which is below the median weekly earnings for the whole of Scotland at £547.30. There is a variation in the median earnings across Perth and Kinross  localities. The median weekly earnings for woman is £459 which is lower than the average weekly earns for men which is currently £568. Median earnings per hour is currently £13.13.

Out of Work Benefits

The proportion of people claiming out of work benefits in Perth and Kinross is low compared with the rest of Scotland. In December 2017 1.1% (1,015  people) of people living in Perth and Kinross were claiming out of work benefits which is half the rate for Scotland as a whole 2.3%. The claimant rate is higher for young adults (18-21) 1.9% compared to 25-49 year olds (1.2%) and people aged 50 and over (0.8%). NOMIS DATA

Useful Links

PK Economic Journal

Skills Development Scotland – PK data

NOMIS- Labour Market Profile