Report on UK Jobs – January 2023

The Report on UK Jobs is unique in providing the most comprehensive guide to the UK jobs market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies and employers to provide the first indication each month of labour market trends.

The main findings for January are:

Permanent placements fall for fourth straight month

Lingering uncertainty over the economic outlook and hesitancy to commit to new permanent hires weighed on recruitment activity at the start of 2023. Permanent staff appointments fell for the fourth month in a row, albeit at the slowest rate over this period. Firms instead often leaned on temporary workers to fill vacancies. Temp billings rose at the quickest rate since last September, albeit mildly overall.

Growth of demand for staff picks up slightly

Recruiters signalled a stronger increase in demand for staff during January, with overall vacancies expanding at the quickest rate for three months. That said, the upturn remained softer than the survey’s long-run trend. Temp vacancies rose at a stronger rate than permanent staff demand, but there was an improvement in growth for the latter and a slowdown for the former.

Starting pay inflation remains elevated

Starting salaries continued to climb sharply in January. The rate of inflation continued to soften from March 2022’s all-time record, however, and was the slowest seen in 21 months. In contrast, temp pay inflation quickened to a four- month high at the start of the year. According to recruiters, candidate shortages pushed up rates of starting pay, while there were also mentions of the rising cost of living placing upward pressure on salaries and wages.

Overall candidate numbers fall at softer, but solid rate

The downturn in total candidate supply moderated further at the start of the year. Though solid, the rate of contraction was the softest seen since March 2021 and much slower than the average over 2022 as a whole. A weaker fall in permanent labour supply helped to offset a quicker drop in temp candidate numbers. Recruiters frequently mentioned that the uncertain economic climate, concerns over job security and generally tight labour market conditions had limited the availability of workers.

Commenting on the latest survey results, Claire Warnes, Partner, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK, said:

“January saw permanent vacancies rise at a quicker pace for the first time in nine months, with the rate of demand growth the strongest seen since last October, giving recruiters, employers and job hunters a reason to be cautiously optimistic for the year ahead. But, with the cost of living continuing to place upwards pressure on pay, job security causing low candidate supply and employers relying on temporary staff as permanent placements decline again, the jobs market remains volatile. Recruiters and employers should be thinking creatively about how to attract and retain permanent hires to bring about stability, including by taking on more apprentices across a range of age groups, and investing in upskilling and reskilling their existing staff.”

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