Key points

  • Permanent placements increase at quickest pace in one year…
  • …but contract billings growth softens to four-month low
  • Demand for staff reaches 18 month peak

Stronger growth of permanent staff placements
Growth in permanent placements picked up from January’s recent low to reach a one-year high in February.  In contrast, contract billings increased at the softest pace in 4 months.

Demand for staff reaches 18-month peak
Job vacancies continued to increase in February.  Overall, demand for staff rose at the quickest rate in one-and-a-half years, with both permanent and temporary workers seeing faster increases.

Candidate availability declines at faster pace
The availability of staff to fill job vacancies declined sharply in February.  Both permanent and short-term candidate supply deteriorated and to a greater extent than at the start of the year, with the former noting the steepest rate of reduction.

Sharper increase in salaries
Starting salaries for candidates placed into permanent roles increased at the quickest pace since March 2016 in February.  Meanwhile, contract pay growth picked up slightly from January and was the second-fastest seen in nine months.

Staff appointments

Strongest increase in permanent placements for one year
The amount of permanent placements made continued to rise in February.  Furthermore, the rate of increase picked up from January’s four-month low and was the quickest seen in a year.  Higher business activity and increased demand for staff has underpinned the latest rise in permanent placements.

Growth in contract billings softens to four-month low
Billing received by agencies from the employment of contract staff increased in February, as has been the case in each of the past 46 months.  Notably, the rate of growth eased further from December’s recent high and was the slowest seen since last October.  Continuing a trend that has been evident since last October, the North of England saw the quickest increase in contract billings.


Demand for staff reaches its highest for 18 months
Latest survey data pointed to a further sharp rise in demand for staff.  Private sector demand for staff remained substantially stronger than that for public sector staff in February. Furthermore, demand for permanent staff at private sector firms reached a 20-month high, whilst vacancies for contract roles in the sector also increased sharply.  Meanwhile, public sector demand rose modestly for both permanent and contract staff in February.

Staff availability

Availability of permanent staff
The availability of candidates to fill permanent roles declined further in February.  Moreover, the rate of reduction quickened to the steepest in 13 months, with around one-third of the panel noting a deterioration in permanent staff availability.  The availability of permanent candidates dropped across all English regions, led by the South.  Scotland also saw a marked decline in permanent staff availability.

Availability of contract staff
Contract staff availability fell further in February, thereby extending the current trend to 44 months.  Notably, the rate of decline was the sharpest seen in six months.  As was the case with permanent staff, the steepest fall in short-term staff availability was recorded in the South


Permanent salaries
February survey data pointed to a further rise in starting salaries placed in permanent roles.  Moreover, the rate of inflation quickened to an 11-month high.  Anecdotal evident linked salary increases to competition between employers for skilled staff that are in short supply.  Higher salaries were broad-based by region, with agencies in the South noting the fastest rate of growth.

Contract pay rates
Pay rates in contract employment continued on an upward trend in February.  The rate of growth in contract pay edged up slightly since the start of the year, and was the second-fastest recorded in nine months (after December 2016).  The fastest increase in contract pay was signaled by agencies based in the South of England, closely followed by the Midlands.


About Langley James

Langley James was founded in 1999 by James Toovey, a highly respected recruitment industry professional.  James wanted to provide something unique: a bespoke recruitment service which was founded on service excellence.  With offices in London and Manchester, we are now providing our recruitment services throughout the world and over the last 17 years have worked with some of the most respected companies in the world.

To find out why so many companies turn to Langley James for support in fulfilling their IT and HR recruitment needs, call and speak to one of our specialist consultants today on 0845 124 9555.