Report on UK Jobs – February 2013

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

Key points from February survey:

  • Permanent placements and temp billings both rise, but at weaker rates
  • Vacancy growth at four-month low
  • Higher private sector demand for staff offsets public sector decline
  • IT & Computing most sought-after type of permanent staff
  • Temp demand highest for Nursing/Medical/Care workers
  • Permanent salary growth at 17-month high, albeit still modest

Staff appointments rise at slower pace..

Recruitment consultancies signalled further increases in permanent placements and temp billings during February. However, in both cases the rates of expansion moderated. Permanent appointments rose at the slowest pace in the current five-month sequence of expansion, while short-term appointments increased at the weakest rate since last August.

…while vacancy growth softens

Overall demand for staff rose at the slowest rate in four months during February, although the pace of expansion remained marked. Slightly weaker increases were signalled for both permanent and temporary vacancies.

Faster increase in permanent salaries

Starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs by recruitment consultancies rose further in February. The rate of inflation quickened to a 17-month high, although it remained modest in the context of historical data. Hourly pay rates for temporary/contract staff were little-changed, showing only a fractional rise.

Permanent staff availability down slightly; temp availability rises

The availability of candidates to fill permanent vacancies decreased for a third consecutive month in February, albeit marginally. Temporary/contract staff availability meanwhile increased for the second month running and at a modest rate.

Commenting on the latest survey results, Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, said:

“For six months employment has been rising at such a rapid pace that it seemed to be outstripping economic growth. Amid the doom and gloom of recent High Street closures the jobs market made little sense, but the February figures suggest that uncertainty is beginning to reverberate in organisations across the country. Appointments may still be moving in a positive direction, but with the pace of recruitment dropping to its slowest pace for five months, it won’t be a surprise if hiring decisions are delayed further, putting candidates and employers in an unwanted state of limbo. The simple fact is that the jobs market cannot be viewed in isolation as employers will only step up recruitment if they are confident they can afford to take on new staff. Whilst retailers have reported improved performance at the cash tills during February, sustainable improvement in employment remains dependent on the growth of the economy as a whole. Until this happens we are likely to see a continuation of this scenario, where two steps forward are followed by one step back. In other words, recovery may be on the way, but it is a long path and one negotiated by very small steps.”