Employers’ confidence in the economy dips for the first time since April

New data shows that employers’ confidence in the prospects for the UK economy turned negative this month according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s latest JobsOutlook report. The balance of those seeing a positive outlook as opposed to a negative one was a net -1, a fall of 7 points since July.

Despite the deterioration in confidence in the economic outlook, employers’ confidence in making hiring and investment decisions in their own businesses remained in positive territory with a net balance of +15, only falling by 1 point since July.

This may have been driven by ongoing concern about candidate availability with employment rates high. Half (50 per cent) of UK employers expressed concern this quarter over the sufficient availability of candidates for permanent jobs – anticipation of shortages was most heightened in relation to construction skills.

Compared to the same period last year more employers of permanent staff planned to increase their permanent headcount in the short-term (26 per cent), up 8 points and the medium term (27 per cent), up 9 points.

The proportion of hirers who use agency workers highlighting plans to increase their agency worker numbers in the short-term (35 per cent) and medium term (35 per cent) at least doubled year-on year.

This has led to two thirds (66 per cent) of employers expressing concerns over the sufficient availability of agency workers this quarter, up from 34 per cent a year earlier (May-July 2017), with marketing, media & creative and drivers the sectors facing the most significant challenges.

REC chief executive Neil Carberry says:

‘Our data shows employer confidence in the economy dipping in the face of uncertainty around the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU. So far this rising concern has only had a limited effect on employers’ own hiring plans, though, with hiring intentions still in positive territory.

“A shortage of available candidates in many areas of the economy means employers are having to work harder to bring in key staff – with many sectors, such as drivers and food supply, fearing they may be hit hard by future changes to the UK’s mobility deal with the EU.

‘UK business needs to know what the Brexit deal will look like soon. The EU summit at the end of June failed to answer many questions and concerns – clarity on our future trading relationship and a comprehensive mobility and migration deal with the EU will give employers the capacity to invest and create jobs.’


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