Job Market December 2019..  KEY FINDINGS

  • Permanent placements continue to fall

 

  • Permanent vacancy growth stuck at decade-low

 

  • Softer increases in starting pay

 

Permanent placements decline at quickest rate since June

The seasonally adjusted Permanent Placements Index signalled a ninth successive monthly drop in permanent staff appointments across the South of England in November. There were numerous reports that employers were holding off or cancelling hiring plans due to political and economic uncertainty. Furthermore, the rate of reduction quickened to the most marked for five months and was solid overall. Permanent placements meanwhile fell only modestly at the national level.

 

Fastest reduction in permanent labour supply for five months

The number of people available to fill permanent job roles in the South of England fell further in November. The rate of deterioration accelerated to the steepest since June, and remained much quicker than the series average. According to anecdotal evidence, uncertainty stemming from the upcoming election and Brexit had deterred many people from seeking out new roles. The reduction in permanent candidate numbers also outpaced the UK-wide average.

 

Starting salaries rise at slowest rate for over three years

Recruitment consultancies in the South of England signalled a further increase in salaries awarded to permanent new joiners in November. Though still sharp overall, the rate of growth was the least marked since August 2016. Higher starting salaries were widely associated with candidate shortages and efforts to attract skilled workers. A softer rate of permanent pay growth was also seen at the UK level.

 

FOR THE UK IN GENERAL

Candidate availability

Permanent candidate availability continued to deteriorate across the UK in November, with the pace of decline accelerating to the fastest for five months and remaining marked overall. The reduction was driven by falls across all of the four monitored English regions, with the South of England posting the fastest rate of contraction. The North of England reported the softest deterioration, albeit one that was sharp nonetheless.

Similar to the trend for permanent availability, the supply of temporary candidates fell at the UK level in November, with the pace of decline accelerating from October to a solid rate overall. Of the four monitored English regions, the Midlands reported the steepest rate of reduction. Meanwhile, the North of England bucked the overall downward trend, and registered a modest increase in temporary candidate supply.

Pay Pressures   

Permanent starting salaries across the UK rose in November, as has been the case in every month since May 2012. The latest increase was solid, albeit the slowest for almost three years. All of the four monitored English regions reported a rise in permanent starters’ pay, with the rate of salary inflation most marked in the North of England.

Meanwhile, November data highlighted a further increase in average hourly pay for temporary workers. The rate of wage inflation eased, however, and was the slowest for three years. The South of England recorded the strongest rate of pay growth of the four monitored English regions. The weakest increase was meanwhile seen in the North of England.

 

Commentary

The jobs market in the South appears to have caught a winter cold. A decline in hires for permanent and temporary positions points to a business community that is a little under the weather. Political and economic clarity will be the perfect tonic for employers and address the lethargy that is holding back new roles being created and stopping job seekers from considering new opportunities.

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About

Simon Bean is managing director of the Recruitment Connection and has been recruiting since 1985. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP).