The latest report on jobs by the REC and KPMG revealed the slowest growth in both permanent placements and temp billings in seven months.

Although permanent staff salaries continued to rise in May, the rate of inflation eased to a three-month low. Temporary staff pay increased at the weakest rate in the current four-month sequence of growth.

Recruitment consultants signalled a modest improvement in the availability of staff to fill job vacancies during May. However, the rates of growth of both permanent and temporary candidate availability eased since the previous month.

Kevin Green, the REC’s Chief Executive, says:

“The latest data shows a worrying deceleration in the UK jobs market. Although the number of placements has continued to increase, the rate of expansion has hit a seven-month low. Private sector job creation has not hit the buffers but it is clearly slowing which heightens concerns over whether public sector job losses can be absorbed.

“There have been signs of increasing employer confidence in some sectors but economic growth remains too fragile to spark the real step-change that our jobs market needs. With consumer confidence at a low ebb, many individuals who would normally be looking to change jobs are staying put.

“The feedback from recruitment professionals confirms a real paradox in the current jobs market, namely, the ongoing challenge of finding suitable candidates in a number of sectors. With the Government’s much discussed ‘Work Programme’ formally getting underway this month, the question now is whether it will be able to deliver the training and guidance necessary to address the current disconnect between employer needs and available candidates. Looking ahead, the mismatch between vacancies and skills available could hinder future growth.”