Fall in job vacancies slowest in six months

The decline in permanent job vacancies has fallen at its slowest rate in six months, suggesting that the jobs market could be on the verge of a recovery, a monthly analysis has found.

The Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and professional services firm KPMG found the number of people placed in permanent vacancies rose in March to 33.5 – on a scale where 50 means no change – up from 30.3 in February.

The demand for temporary workers also increased to 35 – up from 31.5 in February – representing the shallowest drop in demand in four months.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: “These figures are an improvement on the past six months. They indicate the pace of deterioration in the jobs market is easing and this rings true with what recruitment businesses are seeing on the ground.”

The availability of staff improved again in March for the 12th consecutive month – reaching 80.4 – as more people are made redundant and fewer new job opportunities are made available.

The nursing, medical and care sector continues to be the only permanent staff category to register growth in demand for staff – at 56.4 – while blue-collar workers remained the least in demand at 26.3 on the scale.

Meanwhile, a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) out yesterday revealed that the pace of decline in the services sector has also slowed over the first quarter, although it still remains negative.

Service profitability confidence rose 11 points to -23% [this figures is the percentage of companies that predicted profitabilty would improve, minus those that said it would worsen].

However, the manufacturing sector’s first quarter confidence balance fell to new record lows. The profitability confidence dropped 9 points to -48%.

Both the BCC and the REC have urged the government to use this month’s Budget to lend support to businesses and help them create more jobs.

Green said: “With unemployment still set to increase over the coming months, we are calling on the government to ensure that this month’s Budget is focused on retaining and creating jobs.

The director general of the BCC, David Frost, added: “The Budget is an opportunity for the government to show business that it is doing everything possible to support them.”

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