Stressful people waiting for job interview

Key Points

  • Permanent placements growth weakest since last September
  • Contract billings rise a fastest pace in four months
  • Vacancy growth eases to 33-month low

Contrasting trends in permanent and contract appointments

The number of people placed in permanent jobs continued to increase during March. That said, the rate of growth eased to a six-month low. Contract staff billings on the other hand rose at the sharpest pace in four months.

Slowest rise in vacancies since June 2013

March data pointed to softer growth of demand for staff. The latest increase in overall vacancy numbers was the least marked for 33 months. Both permanent and contract staff saw weaker rates of growth.

Candidate availability remains tight

The availability of staff to fill job vacancies was reported to have deteriorated further in March. The sharper drop was indicated for permanent staff availability, which fell at a slightly sharper rate than in February. Contract staff availability however declined at the slowest pace in two-and-a-half years.

Further marked pay growth

Average starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs continued to rise in March. The rate of growth remained strong, having quickened slightly since February. Hourly rates of pay for contract staff meanwhile increased at the sharpest pace in three months.

Staff appointments

Slower rise in permanent placements:
The number of people placed in permanent jobs increased further during March. That said, the rate of expansion eased to a six-month-low. A number of panellists reported that tight candidate availability had restricted growth of permanent staff appointments.
All four monitored English regions saw higher levels of permanent placements. The strongest growth was signalled in the North, while the slowest rise was reported in London.

Growth of contract billings accelerates:
Billings from the employment of contract staff continued to rise in March. The rise of expansion quickened to a four-month high and was marked overall. Rising client activity levels were commonly reported by panellists noting an increase in contract billings.
Growth of contract billings was broad based across the English regions, with the Midlands posting the sharpest increase.

Vacancies

Vacancy growth eases to a 33-month low:
The report on Jobs Vacancy Index slipped to 60.0 in March from 62.1 in February. The latest reading was the lowest since June 2013, although still pointed to a robust pace of expansion overall. Both permanent and contract staff saw demand for their services rise at slower rates in the latest survey period.

Public and private sector vacancies:
Latest data continued to signal stronger demand for staff in the private sector than the public sector. The sharpest rise overall in March was indicated for private sector permanent employees. In contrast, public sector permanent staff registered a further decline.

Other vacancy indicators:
Latest official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) signalled that vacancies rose 3.6% on an annual basis in the three months to February.
Internet-based recruitment spending rose just 0.4% on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter of 2015. This was down from 4.6% growth in the second quarter and the weakest outturn for three years.

Staff availability

Availability of permanent staff:
The availability of candidates to fill permanent roles fell further in March. The latest drop was the thirty-fifth in as many months. The rate of decline was marked, having quickened slightly since February. Lower permanent candidate availability was recorded in each of the four English regions. The fastest drop was indicated in the Midlands

Availability of contract staff:
Contract staff availability continued to deteriorate in March. That said, the latest fall was the least marked in two-and-a-half years. All four English regions saw lower availability of short-term staff, with the steepest decline indicated by agencies based in the Midlands.

Remuneration

Permanent salaries:
Starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs increased further during March. The rate of growth was strong, having accelerated to a four-month high. Around one-quarter of panellists reported a rise in salaries during the latest survey period, citing competition for scarce candidates. The fastest growth of permanent salaries was recorded by consultancies in the North.

Contract pay rates:
Hourly rates of pay for staff in contract employment continued to rise in March. The latest increase was the fastest in three months, having accelerated from February’s 33-month low. The North saw the sharpest increase in contract pay, while the weakest growth was indicated in the Midlands.