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Permanent staff placements in January expanded at its steepest since July 2017, according to the latest Report on Jobs published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and IHS Markit.

The report showed a sharp increase in the number of people placed into permanent roles in January. Furthermore, permanent placements have now risen in each month for the past year-and-a-half. The growth was widely linked to firmer demand for staff.

When broken down by region, the North of England saw the fastest increase in permanent placements.

Meanwhile, agencies’ billings from the employment of temporary and contract staff increased for the fifty-seventh month running in January. Although the rate of expansion softened to a ten-month low. The Midlands saw by far the quickest increase in temp billings,

Demand for staff continued to rise in January, with the Report on Jobs Vacancy Index posting above the neutral 50.0 level at 61.5 at the start of 2018. However, this was down from 61.8 in December and the lowest reading for 13 months.

“It’s reassuring that demand for permanent staff remains strong despite the economic uncertainties,” Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive, said. “However, there is a slight slowdown in the growth of temporary placements. This could be an early sign that employers are hesitating.

The number of candidates available to fulfil permanent and temporary roles continued to contract at historically sharp rates in January. This was despite rates of contraction softening slightly in both cases compared to December. The steepest reduction in permanent staff supply was seen

in the South of England while temporary/contract staff availability was down in each of the five UK regions monitored by the survey, with the sharpest drop indicated in the Midlands.

Temporary/contract staff hourly pay rates continued to rise markedly in January, despite the rate of inflation easing to the joint-lowest in ten months (on par with October 2017). January data indicated a sharp and accelerated rise in starting salaries for people placed into permanent job roles. Notably, the rate of salary inflation was the steepest recorded since June 2015.

“We are seeing a continued rise in jobs filled via recruiters as it gets more challenging for businesses to find candidates,” Green said. “The UK has almost full employment and the country is plagued by labour, skills and talent shortages. This increasing competition for good quality staff is driving up starting salaries with employers willing to pay higher wages to attract the right people. So, it’s a good time to move jobs, especially as employers aren’t increasing wages for their existing workforce.”