Brexit fears strike as new perm jobs growth drop to lowest in two years

Brexit uncertainty is hitting hirers’ plans to increase permanent headcount, according to the latest KMPG and Recruitment & Employment Confederation ‘Report on Jobs’.

The report’s findings reveal agencies indicated a further marked decline in the availability of candidates at the end of 2018. The deterioration in permanent labour supply increased in the previous month, while short-term staff numbers fell at a less pronounced but still marked rate.

Candidates for permanent roles were hard to come by during December, with the rate of expansion of permanent staff appointments the softest seen in 20 months. This contrasted with temp billings, which rose at a sharper rate, up from November’s joint 25-month low.

Vacancies increased for both permanent and temporary roles across the UK at the end of 2018, with growth of demand for both types of worker much stronger than witnessed on average over the survey’s 21-year history.

As demand for workers generally outstripped supply, starting pay continued to rise sharply for both permanent and short-term workers in December. The rate of starting salary inflation was among the quickest seen for over three years, while temp pay growth also remained sharp by the survey’s standards.

Across the country, the South of England witnessed the sharpest increase in permanent staff appointments, while relatively mild expansions were seen across the remaining three English regions.

Meanwhile, all four monitored English regions registered marked increases in temp billings at the end of 2018, again led by the South of England.

Turning to sector disciplines, accounting & financial and engineering were the most in-demand categories for permanent staff at the end of 2018 – though marked increases in vacancies were also seen across all other monitored sectors.

While blue collar continued at the top of the rankings for temporary/contract staff demand during December, short-term vacancies rose across all of the other nine monitored categories. The least marked increase was seen for executive/professional staff.

Commenting on the report’s findings, REC CEO Neil Carberry said: “It’s no surprise that growth in new permanent jobs dropped to its lowest level in almost two years last month, because economic uncertainty is now affecting companies’ hiring plans. But the underlying strength of our labour market is still there – vacancies are high and temporary placements rose in the run-up to Christmas. There are opportunities out there for people who want to change job in 2019.”

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