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UK labour market takes off in May

UK labour market takes off in May

 The KPMG/REC Jobs Report for May shows the UK labour market really taking off. The gradual reopening of the UK economy and improved market confidence sparked the sharpest increase in permanent placements in over 23-and-a-half years of data collection in May. Temp billings also rose rapidly, expanding at the quickest rate for more than six years.

Demand for staff rose at near-record pace in May and survey data also highlighted a sharp and accelerated rise in vacancies, with the latest upturn the most marked since January 1998. Substantial increases in demand were signalled for both permanent and temporary staff, with the former seeing the slightly steeper rate of growth.

Staff availability deteriorated rapidly with the decline in total candidate availability gathering pace midway through the second quarter. The latest reduction in overall staff supply was the most severe for four years and rapid, with both permanent and short-term candidates falling at substantial rates. Lower worker availability was frequently linked to lingering pandemic uncertainty and a subsequent reluctance to seek out new roles, fewer EU candidates and furloughed staff.

Greater demand for workers and a generally low supply of candidates pushed up rates of starting pay again in May. Starting salaries for permanent staff rose to the greatest extent since September 2018, while temp wage inflation hit a near two-year high.

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said: “We now have a consistent picture over the past few months to show that confidence is growing and hiring plans are in motion. The data is mirroring exactly what recruiters tell us daily. Permanent placements are growing at the fastest pace we’ve ever seen, and temp billings at the quickest for six years.”