Jobs market continues to confound expectations

London saw the slowest growth in permanent placements
Andy Rain/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the number of staff appointments made by recruitment consultancies grew at its fastest rate for more than two years.

The Report on Jobs, from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and IHS Markit, showed that in July, permanent placements increased by the greatest extent in 27 months, and temporary billings improved to a two-and-a-half year high.

Unsurprising, the availability of both permanent and temporary workers continued to fall sharply last month. The rate of reduction eased for permanent staff, but the availability of temporary candidates declined at the quickest pace for more than 18 months.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “It’s clear that employers are having to work even harder to fill jobs as vacancies rise and candidate availability shrinks. UK employment remains at an all-time high and looks set to keep improving.

“The parts of the economy most reliant on European workers are under even more pressure as many EU workers return home. Employers are not just struggling to hire the brightest and the best but also people to fill roles such as chefs, drivers and warehouse workers.”

The strongest growth in permanent placements was in the Midlands, closely followed by the north of England. The weakest increase was seen in London, where growth softened to an eight-month low.

“London in particular is feeling the Brexit effect,” continued Green. “Hiring is still growing but at a much slower rate compared with every other region of the UK. Financial services, a crucial part of the London labour market, are not hiring in their usual quantity as the uncertainty caused by Brexit makes them hesitant.

“We can’t ignore the importance of our relationship with the EU to employers. If we want to keep our jobs market successful and vibrant, we must make it easier, not harder, for employers to access the people they need.”

Starting salaries for successful permanent candidates rose further in July, with the rate of inflation reaching a 20-month record. At the same time, hourly pay rates for short-term staff continued to increase sharply.

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