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--UK Jan Permanent Placements 49.7 v 53.7 Dec: Markit/REC
By Jai Lakhani
     LONDON (MNI) - UK staff appointments shifted below 50 for the first time in
18 months in January, as rising economic uncertainty and ongoing candidate
shortages impeded labour market performance at the start of 2019, the Markit/REC
Report on Jobs survey released Friday showed. 
     Whilst Permanent staff placements contracted, temporary staff placements
saw a noted softening to start the year, dropping 5.3 points to 51.5. 
     Anecdotal evidence appeared to suggest that concerns over Brexit and a
further deterioration in candidate availability drove the permanent placement
indicator into contraction. The effect was also felt in temporary billings
despite the reading being above the 50.0 change/no-change mark. The temporary
billings reading of 51.5 was the joint-slowest pace in nearly six years of
continuous growth. 
     "With Brexit just 50 days away now, it's definitely a nervous time for
recruiters. January marked the first fall in permanent staff appointments since
the referendum and we've seen a sharp decline in the number of candidates
entering the jobs market," said James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG. 
     --VACANCIES                                                   
     Coupled with slowing hires, the overall rate of vacancy growth was down to
its least marked for 27 months. However, it still remains at historically
elevated levels. 
     The job vacancies index slipped 0.8pp to 59.2 in January, driven by a 0.8pp
decline across the permanent index to 59.2 and 1.2 points in temporary staff to
58.5.  
     "Both employers and employees are in 'wait and see mode' now and there is
little reason to believe the brakes will come off the jobs market before we find
out what sort of Brexit the UK is about to experience,"  added Stewart.
     Starting salaries continued to increase last month, with the overall
availability of staff continuing to decline sharply, a 20 month record in
January. As a result, the permanent salaries index was up on the month and
despite falling, the temporary salaries index remained high. 
     The permanent salaries index rose 0.8pp to 63.4 in January. Temporary wages
were down a touch to 58.5 from 59.7 previously. 
     -REC REPORT ADDS TO LIST OF DATA SHOWING NEED FOR BREXIT AGREEMENT
     "This is the first month since July 2016 where permanent placement numbers
have dropped, with weaker- but still positive- performance for temporary roles,
and the lowest rate of vacancy growth for over two years. But we should be
careful not to overreact- employment rates are high, and the performance of our
labour market overall is still strong," said Neil Carberry, Chief Executive at
the REC. 
     "That said, the survey results are a sharp reminder to politicians in
Westminster and in Brussels of the need to provide businesses with clarity about
the path ahead, so that they can invest with confidence," he added.
--MNI London Bureau; +44 203 865 3828; email: jai.lakhani@marketnews.com
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MABDS$,M$B$$$,M$E$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com