'Summer doldrums' for jobs market
The jobs market has held up relatively well but remains in the "summer doldrums", with worrying signs of falling back to pre-recession levels, a survey of recruitment firms has found.
The study of 400 recruitment and employment firms revealed a "moderate" increase in permanent and temporary jobs, an easing in the number of vacancies and a rise in the number of candidates, while it also showed staff salaries increased at the slowest pace for almost two years.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said its report highlighted the robustness of the UK jobs market, adding: "In the face of a slowing economy, falling consumer confidence and high inflation, private sector employers continue to hire staff.
"The numbers are lower than three months ago but placements continued to rise in August, which was the 25th consecutive month of growth.
"The figures also show that with a month to go before the introduction of new regulations covering agency workers that businesses continue to depend on and use this flexible resource.
"The UK jobs market is being incredibly resilient. Even with increasing job losses in the public sector and a new influx of school-leavers it is performing much better than many predicted. We are confident that this trend is set to continue."
Bernard Brown of KPMG, which helped with the study, added: "Although the jobs market has held up relatively well, it remains in the summer doldrums and, worryingly, there seem to be early signs of trends similar to those of 2008.
"Whether this is a blip or a return to a familiar and unwelcome pattern will emerge over the next few months. Employers continue to take a cautious approach to hiring decisions amid an uncertain economic climate. Whether this will persist as the summer holidays draw to a close is an open question."
Employment minister Chris Grayling said: "It is encouraging that despite continued uncertainty about the strength of the world economy, this study confirms the resilience of the labour market. In fact the latest official figures show there are 400,000 more people in work now than in May 2010, driven by increases in private sector employment.
"But we have always acknowledged that the economic recovery could be uneven, and this is why we are doing all we can to increase growth, support the economy and encourage businesses to invest and create jobs."