Recruitment demand hits four-year low for labour market

Demand for staff has hit a four-year low, according to the latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey of UK employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and consultancy KPMG.

According to the study of 735 employers, overall demand for staff has weakened since the end of last year – and is weaker than in any of the spring surveys since the survey series began in spring 2004.

However, the research suggested there was no sign that conditions in the jobs market have yet deteriorated dramatically in response to the emerging economic slowdown. Instead employers seem to be adopting a cautious ‘wait and see’ approach to their staffing requirements rather than taking drastic action to axe jobs.

Some 37% of respondents expected to increase staff levels in the spring quarter (March-May 2008), slightly higher than the previous quarter. However, the figure is lower than that recorded in spring 2007 (39%), spring 2006 (41%), spring 2005 (49%) and spring 2004 (53%).

John Philpott, CIPD chief economist, said: “Conditions in the UK labour market are clearly softer than six months ago and softer than at this time of year for several years. But net hiring – recruitment minus redundancies – remains strongly positive which suggests that while the labour market is currently experiencing a period of relative slowdown, it is far from approaching a state of meltdown.”

However, he warned that falling confidence in the outlook for the economy might still trigger a wave of job cuts.

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