Contrasting trends in permanent and temporary appointments
The number of people placed in permanent jobs continued to increase during March. That said, the rate of growth eased to a six-month low. Temporary/contract staff billings on the other hand rose at the sharpest pace in four months.
Slowest rise in vacancies since June 2013
March data pointed to softer growth of demand for staff. The latest increase in overall vacancy numbers was the least marked for 33 months. Both permanent and temporary staff saw weaker rates of growth.
Candidate availability remains tight
The availability of staff to fill job vacancies was reported to have deteriorated further in March. The sharper drop was indicated for permanent staff availability, which fell at a slightly sharper rate than in February. Temporary/contract staff availability however declined at the slowest pace in two-and-a-half years.
Further marked pay growth
Starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs continued to rise in March. The rate of growth remained strong, having quickened slightly since February. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff meanwhile increased at the sharpest pace in three months.
Regional and sector variation
All four monitored English regions saw higher levels of permanent placements. The strongest growth was signalled in the North, while the slowest rise was reported in London.
Growth of temp billings was broad-based across the English regions, with the Midlands posting the sharpest increase.
Latest data continued to signal stronger demand for staff in the private sector than the public sector. The sharpest rise overall in March was indicated for private sector permanent employees. In contrast, public sector permanent staff registered a further decline.
Demand rose for all nine types of permanent staff in March. The strongest rate of growth was indicated for Executive/Professional workers. The slowest increase was reported for Hotel & Catering employees.
Broad-based growth of demand for staff was reported in March. The strongest increase was signalled for Nursing/Medical/Care workers, while the weakest growth was indicated for Engineering employees.
REC director of policy Tom Hadley says:
“Over the last quarter permanent hiring has continued to grow, but the rate eased in March to the slowest since September 2015. While we expect jobs growth to continue overall, we are now seeing the effects of current uncertainty in the marketplace on UK employment.
“Global economic headwinds plus uncertainty around a possible Brexit make it likely that slower growth in permanent hiring will remain over the next few months as employers take a wait-and-see approach.
“In contrast, temporary hiring is on the up as businesses seek to meet increasing demand while retaining the ability to react quickly to any threats that might be around the corner.
“We have also seen a continuing increase in both starting salaries for permanent positions and hourly rates for temporary employment – a trend likely linked to the introduction of the National Living Wage.”
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