Recruitment industry adds £43bn to UK economy says latest REC report

The staffing and recruitment industry has added £43bn to the UK economy in 2021, with agencies placing 23m people as businesses began their recovery from the pandemic.

According to the latest Recruitment Industry Status Report (RISR) published today by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the recruitment and staffing industry contributed £42.9bn of direct Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy last year.

This marked a 21.7% increase on 2020 and a rise on pre-pandemic levels.

The findings showed:

  • The sector and related industries employed over 200,000 people in more than 30,000 businesses in 2021, 6.5% higher than the previous year.
  • £36.4bn was achieved through temporary/contract placement activity, up from the £32.7bn in the previous year, with 22.4m placements made.
  • £6.5bn was achieved through permanent placement activity, up from £3.2bn in 2020, with 547,692 placements made.
  • 69% of income came solely from UK-based placements.
  • 30,005 enterprises operated across the UK recruitment industry at the start of 2022, an increase of 1.9% on the number at the start of 2021.
  • 201,154 staff were employed by the broader recruitment industry in 2021, up 6.5% on the previous year.

The report said 79.5% of the recruitment enterprises were micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees, with 82% having less than £1m in turnover. In contrast, 180 firms, or 1.6% of the total, have turnover of over £50m, with 470 businesses employing 250-plus employees.

A drop in the total number of temporary employment agencies from 2021 to 2022 was driven by a reduction in the number of businesses with more than £100k in turnover, the report said. For both temporary and permanent staffing agencies, there were increases in the number of businesses with a turnover less than £50k.

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