Data on British jobs 'positive'


The number of people placed in permanent jobs in Britain grew at its fastest pace in nine months in February, a recruitment survey showed today.

The survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation is in line with a raft of recent news suggesting that the economy is on the mend.

The confederation said its monthly index of permanent staff placements rose for the second month running to 53.2 from 51.2 in January. Readings above 50 indicate growth.

Overall demand for staff rose at the quickest pace in four months, led by a sharp increase in permanent job openings.

"The latest report raises hopes of a spring revival in the jobs market," said Bernard Brown, head of business services at accountants KPMG, who co-sponsor the survey.

Britain's unemployment rate unexpectedly stabilised at 8.4 per cent in December and the jobless numbers dipped compared with November as employment rose and firms offered more jobs, data has shown.

"We anticipate that unemployment will continue to worsen slightly over the next few months," said confederation chief executive Kevin Green. "With these early indicators of the private sector starting to hire again, the labour market is likely to bounce back towards the end of this year and on into early 2013."

However, the labour market remains fragile. Salaries paid to new permanent hires fell for the first time since 2009, and KPMG's Brown added that the pressure on wages could continue as the year went on.

Cash-strapped Britons may draw some comfort from a survey showing that shop prices rose at the slowest pace in almost two years in February after the biggest fall in non-food prices since November 2009.

Firms' spending on temporary staff ticked down for the third consecutive month in February, with caution by employers and labour law changes cited among the reasons, the confederation's report said.