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Downturn in recruitment activity eases in June

Commenting on the latest survey results, James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG, said:
“Despite an inevitable further drop in hiring activity for permanent and temporary staff, it is encouraging to see they both fell at softer rates than seen in April and May.
“However, the air of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic will linger – and rebuilding confidence in the UK jobs market will take time.
“All eyes will be on the Chancellor’s fiscal statement today, with job seekers hoping to see a focus on skills and retraining. While UK business will welcome further support packages so they can start to ramp up as lockdown eases, and recovery gets underway.”

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:
“While there are signs that the worst declines are behind us, today’s figures show that it will be a while yet before we see job placements growing month on month. That’s no surprise, as businesses are focusing on bringing furloughed staff back to work, or making redundancies where they cannot be avoided. Recruiters will be key to helping those who lose their roles find new work – there are always vacancies out there for jobseekers, though they are at a lower level than normal right now.
“This is now a jobs crisis. Rishi Sunak should use today’s Summer Statement to boost job creation, with a cut in National Insurance designed to retain jobs and boost hiring. Action on skills will also be vital to getting people into growing sectors – including a more flexible approach to levy-funded training.”


  • Softer, but still steep, falls in permanent placements and temp billings
  • Quickest rise in staff supply since start of 2009
  • Starting pay continues to fall as vacancies decline further

Softer decline in permanent placements
UK recruitment consultancies signalled a fourth successive monthly drop in the number of people placed into permanent jobs in June. The rate of decline eased notably from the records seen in April and May, but remained sharp overall. According to survey respondents, the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh heavily on recruitment activity at the end of the second quarter, with clients implementing recruitment freezes or cancelling hires until the outlook brightened. In cases where placements had risen, recruiters linked this to an easing of lockdown measures, but many also stated that placements had risen only modestly.
On a regional basis, permanent staff appointments fell markedly across each of the four monitored English regions. The steepest reduction was seen in London, while the softest was in the Midlands.

Temp billings fall further, but downturn eases since May
Adjusted for seasonal factors, the Temporary Billings Index signalled a decline in temp billings in June, as has been the case in each of the past four months. The rate of contraction eased further from April’s record pace but remained severe overall. When explaining the drop in temp billings, panel members frequently mentioned that the COVID-19 outbreak had sharply reduced demand for short term workers. Panellists that noted higher temp billings generally linked this to the slow reopening of the economy and some clients preferring to hire contract staff as opposed to permanent
The steepest decline in temp billings was seen in London, while the Midlands saw the slowest reduction. Nonetheless, rates of decrease remained sharp across all four monitored English regions.