Key points:
Permanent placements rise at fastest rate for 19 months
Strongest increase in temp billings since March 2011
Sharper expansion of job vacancies
Robust demand from private sector offsets public sector weakness
Pay growth remains muted

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs – published today – provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies.

Upturn in staff placements continues
November data indicated a second successive monthly rise in permanent staff placements, with the rate of growth picking up to the fastest for 19 months. Temp billings also increased at a sharper rate, with the pace of expansion the highest since March 2011.

…buoyed by stronger rise in vacancies
Overall job vacancies increased at a faster pace in November, with growth at a 19-month high. Data showed that robust demand from private sector employers offset weak demand from the public sector.

Pay pressures remain weak
Permanent staff salaries continued to rise in November. Although moderate, the rate of inflation was nevertheless the sharpest for 14 months. Temp pay also increased, but the rise was only marginal.

Temp availability rises; permanent staff availability static
Short-term staff availability increased at a solid pace in November, whereas the availability of permanent employees remained broadly unchanged.

Regional and sector variation
English regional data signalled that growth of permanent placements was strongest in the North and weakest in London during November.

Data showed that temporary/contract staff billings rose across all English regions in November, with the Midlands posting the strongest expansion.

Marked increases in demand were signalled for both permanent and temporary workers, with the former recording the slightly sharper rise.

Public sector demand for temporary staff increased marginally during November, but a further contraction in demand was indicated for permanent workers.

Demand rose for seven categories of permanent staff during November. The only exception was Hotel & Catering, where a marginal reduction was signalled. The strongest expansion was indicated for Engineering/Construction workers.

Nursing/Medical/Care remained the most sought-after type of temporary/contract staff in November, as has been the case throughout the past ten months. All other categories registered higher levels of demand with the exception of Executive/Professional, where a moderate decline was signalled.

Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive Kevin Green says:
“Recruiters are reporting another monthly increase in the number of people they have placed into permanent and temporary jobs and it’s beginning to look like an accelerating trend.

“Employer confidence is genuinely bouncing back with businesses feeling more encouraged to hire, which bodes well for the New Year.

“The reductions in corporation tax and investment in big infrastructure projects announced in the Autumn Statement should help boost confidence even higher and encourage more job creation in 2013.”

Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, comments:
“Twelve months ago employment prospects were bleak. Today, however, the negative outlook has been replaced by cautious optimism as employers gradually gain confidence to make decisions about the vacancies they want to fill.

“For November, the latest figures offer evidence of an improved jobs market across the country. Intriguingly, the growth outside London has been more pronounced, particularly in the North of England where there was a marked increase in the availability of permanent employment. The Midlands also shows positive signs, with a sharp rise in temporary positions being filled.

“Perhaps the Government’s long-term strategy for jobs is beginning to bear fruit? With the latest figures hinting that robust demand in business is offsetting weak demand across the public sector, we might just be seeing signs of resilience. But before anyone gets the bunting out, the good news must be seen in the context of a fragile economy that remains susceptible to future shocks. Recovery is by no means certain and we need a few more months like this to suggest that emerging trends are translating into a sustained period of growth in employment.”