Demand for jobs hits a 12-month low

The Government has been urged to do “everything possible” to combat the threat of increasing unemployment after demand for jobs grew at the slowest rate for a year in September.

The latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs shows that the increase in permanent appointments was the slowest for a year, while growth of temporary billings eased to an 11-month low.

Although permanent staff salaries continued to rise in September, the rate of inflation eased to a 10-month low. Temporary/contract staff hourly pay decreased marginally for the first time in nine months.

September data signalled a reduction in the availability of permanent staff for the fourth time in the past five months. However, the latest fall was only slight. The availability of temporary/contract staff rose at the fastest pace for three months.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, warned that the jobs market “is starting to flatline” and may herald a “double dip” in employment.

“The Government must do everything possible to avert the threat of increasing unemployment,” he said. “Recent party conferences have underlined plans for welfare and benefits reform but this will take years to implement. Immediate priorities for Government must focus on encouraging private sector employers with incentives to take on staff and radically improving the support being offered to specific groups of jobseekers, such as those under 25.”

Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, said the report once again highlighted the differences in demand between the private and public sectors.

“As in previous months, engineering, construction and executive staff have been most in demand, an indication of the continuing recovery in the private and manufacturing sector,” he said. “This is in sharp contrast to the situation in the public sector where many organisations have started redundancy programmes or have at least imposed hiring freezes. For example, the sharp decline in the demand for healthcare professionals comes as a direct result of government cutbacks and efforts to reform the NHS and may be only a sign of things to come.”

Last month, the Office for National Statistics revealed that employment for the three months to July rose by 286,000 to 29.16 million, representing the biggest quarterly rise since 1971. But employment experts warned that the jobs market was still fragile, as the bulk of this growth was in part-time jobs.

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