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Permanent staff placements falls again in April, but pay growth accelerates

KPMG and REC's report on jobs reveals slower fall in permanent placements amidst hesitancy in recruitment and wage inflation.

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The rate of contraction was the slowest since January.
Permanent candidate numbers declined across all English regions during April.
Panellists noted hesitancy amongst companies in recruiting extra staff.

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April’s KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs survey signalled a further decline in permanent placements made by UK recruitment consultants.

The report, compiled by S&P Global, surveyed 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies. Firms are reportedly holding back on recruitment, however, the overall fall in placements was slower, easing to the weakest for 10 months. Similarly, temp billings declined in April, but the rate of contraction was the slowest since January.

Key report findings include: Placements fall at a weaker pace, pay rates increased to attract candidates and candidate availability growth hits five-month high.

There was a fall in demand for staff during April, both for permanent and temporary workers. Other findings revealed that pay growth rates strengthened and permanent salaries rose to the fastest degree in 2024, whilst temporary wage inflation was the strongest for nearly a year.

The latest data reveals a further fall in the number of permanent staff appointments made by UK recruitment consultants during April. Placements have now fallen each month since October 2022, although the rate of decline in April was slower, easing to its weakest since June 2023. Temp billings also fell at a softer rate (the weakest in three months). Panellists noted hesitancy amongst companies in recruiting extra staff plus a lack of suitable candidates.

Pay rates picked up during April as firms remained willing to raise wages to attract suitable candidates. The report signalled that pay has now increased for both permanent and temporary staff for 38 months in a row. For permanent workers, the rate of growth accelerated to its highest in the year-to-date, though it remained below its historical survey trend. Temporary staff saw their pay rates rise at the steepest pace since June 2023.

The latest data reveals a further fall in the number of permanent staff appointments made by UK recruitment consultants during April.

April’s survey showed that overall demand for staff continued to fall, extending the current downturn to six months and the rate of contraction was the slowest since January. Temp staff demand was down, marginally, to a slower degree than for permanent workers.

Candidate availability continued to rise during April, with the rate of growth for all staff hitting its best for five months. Panellists noted a higher number of redundancies, whilst also noting an increase in people looking for work. Rates of growth in candidate availability were similarly strong for both permanent and temporary staff.

Permanent candidate numbers declined across all English regions during April. The steepest reduction was in the South of England. Of the three English regions that recorded a decline in temp billings, the steepest cut was London. The Midlands bucked the broader trend, registering modest growth during April.

Led by the Retail category, April saw seven out of 10  broad sectors covered by the survey register a drop in demand for permanent staff. Of the three sectors where growth was registered, the strongest rise was for Engineering.

For temporary vacancies, half of the sectors covered recorded a fall in demand during April, with retail registering the steepest contraction. Of the five categories that saw growth, the strongest increase was seen for Blue Collar, followed by Engineering.

Jon Holt, Chief Executive and Senior Partner of KPMG in the UK, said:“Business leaders see this cooling, combined with weakening inflationary pressure, as indicators for the bank to hopefully shift to a more dovish position. Companies would then have the confidence and certainty to press go on their investment strategies.”

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