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Hiring activity dampened by uncertainty

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According to the latest KPMG and Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) report on jobs, the number of people placed into permanent job roles fell for the fourth time in the past five months in May, and at a quicker pace than in April. At the same time, temp billings expanded only marginally, with growth hitting a 73-month low. There were many reports that hiring activity was dampened by uncertainty, but also mentions that demand for staff had weakened compared to earlier in the year.

Ongoing Brexit-related uncertainty and generally tight labour market conditions were cited as key factors weighing on candidate availability during May. Furthermore, both permanent and temporary staff supply declined at faster rates than in April.

Although salaries awarded to permanent starters continued to grow sharply in May, the rate of inflation was the least marked for just over two years. In contrast, temp wages increased at the quickest pace for six months. Panellists commonly stated that competition for scarce workers continued to place upward pressure on pay.

James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG said, “Brexit uncertainty continues to dampen the jobs market as companies kept their recruitment decisions on hold in May. Permanent staff appointments fell at a slightly faster pace than in April, while subdued confidence ensured that growth in temporary billings hit a six-year low.

“Of increasing concern is that uncertainty is feeding through to weaker growth in job vacancies, while the supply of candidates fell sharply as people are becoming more risk averse with regards to switching roles. Relatively muted trends for permanent staff vacancies were seen across the board, with retail, construction and executive/professional hit particularly badly.

“We expect the labour market to remain in stalemate over the summer as the contest for a new Prime Minister kicks off. Companies are unlikely to make any dramatic investment decisions until a new leader is in place and have more insight on the future direction of Brexit.”

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation said, “The jobs market is still creating opportunities for those looking for work. With vacancies rising and starting salaries going up sharply, it is worth people talking to recruiters about that next step in their career.

“Overall, though, the survey again shows what uncertainty does to hiring plans, with permanent placements dropping again.”




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