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Rachel Fielding

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News: Permanent placements rise at fastest rate for 17 months

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Business leaders were given more encouraging news about the state of the economy today after the latest KPMG/ REC ‘Report on Jobs’ showed that appointments to permanent positions have risen for the first time since the Spring.

Data from across the country shows that appointments of permanent staff increased for the first time since May, and at the fastest rate in 17 months. Higher placements were supported by a stronger expansion of job vacancies, the most marked since June 2011.

Increased confidence among employers advertising more roles and candidates becoming increasingly willing to look for new positions helped to buoy the figures. The availability of permanent staff continued to rise in October, although the rate of growth eased to a five-month low and was modest overall. Temp availability increased at the weakest rate in the current 55-month period of growth.

Although pay growth remains muted, short-term staff billings increased for the third month running in October with the rate of growth accelerating to the sharpest for one-and-a-half years. Permanent staff salaries rose for a sixth successive month in October, albeit only slightly. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff, meanwhile, increased marginally for the second month running.

The findings led Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, to express muted optimism “It may not be leaps and bounds yet, in terms of progress, but these are the largest strides for some time and should not go un-noticed. The latest figures show increasing numbers of people are finding work across the UK in both temporary and permanent positions. In the context of jobs being filled at the fastest rate for nearly 18 months, we seem to be stepping in the right direction – something that was barely thought possible just a few short months ago.”

The latest GDP figures, published at the end of October, showed the UK economy grew 1% in the three months from July to September, with some commentators expressing concern that the positive impact of the Olympics and a bounce-back after the Diamond Jubilee bank holidays had resulted in a temporary blip on a gloomy horizon.

“With London and other regions across the country now seeing a broad growth of permanent placements, indications are that employers are gaining in confidence and laying the foundation stones for economic growth. Of course, no one should be under any illusions that a strong jobs market indicates a strong recovery, but confidence is what drives a buoyant market and the hope must be that businesses are ready to recruit for the long-term,” Brown said.

Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive Kevin Green described the latest monthly report as exciting news from the labour market. “The positive performance we’ve seen from the UK jobs market over the past year is accelerating, with increases in the number of people placed into both temporary and permanent work last month. The sharpest rise in job vacancies in over a year shows employers are confident about their own businesses and, as they deal with increasing demand, are driving the momentum for more people finding work.

“We’ve now seen rises in the number of workers placed into temporary jobs for three months in a row. This is a sure sign British bosses understand the business case for using a flexible workforce to handle fluctuating demand and costs effectively. More people engaging in flexible work is a trend that’s going to increase in our post-recession economy.”

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