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Cath Everett

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Jobs up but wages fall, claims job index


Although the number of posts being advertised may be on the up, wages are continuing to drop – unless you happen to be a senior HR director in Whitehall.

According to the latest Reed Job Index, which is based on data from, the UK’s largest jobs board, demand among employers for new staff increased by 1% (one point) to 103 points in May compared with April. The figure was measured against a baseline score of 100 that was set in December last year.
Recruitment activity increased most steeply in the charity and voluntary sector, but also rose in areas such as marketing and PR, legal and secretarial. The number of jobs advertised for both non-qualified and fully-qualified accountants was likewise on the up.
Surprisingly, however, the same was also true of public sector posts, which perhaps indicates a burst of hiring activity before widely anticipated recruitment freezes. The Index here increased by 23 points compared with the previous month to hit 97, close to last year’s level.
But salaries fell by 3% (four points) over the same period to reach a score of 95. Even in those sectors that showed high levels of demand, wages remained steady or dropped. The average salary for May was £31,871 compared with £33,220 in April and £33,414 last December.
Martin Warnes, managing director of, said that economic confidence was “edging up” despite the disruption caused by the election and turmoil on Europe’s financial markets.
“While it is good that the job demand trend is upwards again, recovery remains fragile and salaries for staff dropped 3% in May. In spite of [the Chancellor] George Osborne’s hopes, the private sector has yet to demonstrate that it is taking up the slack in advance of public sector cuts,” he added.
Although demand for jobs in London returned to growth, with the London Job Index hitting 102, recruitment activity in the capital is now below the national average. This situation contrasts with that of earlier in the year when demand was outstripping growth elsewhere.
Increased hiring activity was experienced in East Anglia and the West Midlands, however, although recruitment in both Scotland and Wales is now lower than in December last year.
According to Personnel Today, meanwhile, senior HR directors in Whitehall appear to be riding the storm. Of the 172 civil servants named as part of the new government’s transparency drive, seven HR bosses were found to earn more than the £142,000 per annum paid to the Prime Minister.
Kevin White, the Home Office’s director general (DG) of HR, led the pack, earning a salary of between £190,000 and £194,000. Next came Chris Last, HR DG for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on between £180,000 and £184,000.
He was followed by Mike Falvey, chief people officer at HM Revenue and Customers, who takes home between £175,000 and £179,000, while Stephen Holt, the DWP’s director of change management, received between £160,000 to £164,999.
Last on the list were Bill Gunnyeon, the DWP’s director of health and wellbeing, who earned between £155,000 and £159,999, and Neil Hayward, the Ministry of Justice’s group HR director, who was on between £150,000 and £154,999.


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