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Cath Everett

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Public sector job cuts crossroads on road to recovery

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Although the UK jobs market is moving ‘out of intensive care’ and confidence is returning to the private sector, it is likely to be hit by public sector redundancies over the next 12 to 18 months, according to experts.

 
The latest ‘Report on Jobs’ published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and management consultants KPMG indicated that permanent staff placements rose for the sixth month running in January, although growth was down on December’s zenith.
 
The number of job vacancies also increased for the fourth consecutive month at the fastest rate since July 2007 as did staff availability, although the growth in people looking for work was lower than the peaks experienced in late 2008 and early 2009.
 
Kevin Green, the REC’s chief executive, said that the UK jobs market was now on the long road to recovery, although it was still in a fragile state. “While employers are hiring more now than at any other time last year, the recovery is tentative,” he added.
 
Bernard Brown, a partner and head of business services at KPMG, agreed. He believes that the road to recovery will be a bumpy one, not least because “the starting gun for a public sector recession has only just been fired and its impact on the jobs market will be felt over the next 12 to 18 months”.
 
The study, which is based on data provided by recruitment agencies, also found that, while the salaries of permanent staff continued to rise in January, growth rates did ease slightly and were still low by historical standards.
 
The wages of temporary and contract staff also increased, albeit marginally, for the first time since September 2008 as the number of billings increased only slightly below December’s two and a half year high. The number of temporary and contract workers available for work also rose, however.

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