Figures point to signs of recovery in jobs market

The employment market is picking up, according to research that shows the
decline in permanent placements has slowed for the fourth month.

The Report on Jobs survey of recruitment consultants reveals last month saw
the smallest drop in placements since May last year.

Consultants also report an increase in weekly billings from temporary and
contract staff for the second successive month, marking a further recovery from
the declines in the last three months of 2001.

The study, published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and
Andersen, shows demand increased for many types of staff, with nursing, medical
and care staff seeing the strongest rise, followed by engineering and
manufacturing staff.

Brett Walsh, head of human capital at Andersen, believes the report shows
companies are more confident about their prospects and anticipate an upturn in
the economy.

He said: "In a month in which the US and the UK have reported signs of
economic growth, this survey also provides encouraging signals.

"For the first time in 10 months demand for staff rose. Pay pressures
also rose for the second month running, further reinforcing these positive
signals for employment growth."

Tim Nicholson, chief executive at REC, thinks the latest figures are cause
for cautious optimism.

He said: "Modest strength of demand shown in these figures is to be
welcomed, although continued pressure on margins remains a concern.

"Growth, albeit weak, in billings for temporary staff for the second
consecutive month demonstrates the value organisations place on flexible
staffing in difficult trading conditions."

By Paul Nelson

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