The customary post-Christmas surge in job vacancies is no flash in the pan, according to new research from recruiters Adecco: billings for PAYE umbrella contractors and permanent jobs alike remaining encouragingly high in February, dispelling fears that January’s high-point was simply a conventional carry-over from the usual Christmas-period boost.

Umbrella companies serving the IT skills market did especially well: ads for both permanent and temporary jobs in IT and telecoms rose in February, indicating a favourable outlook in 2012 for those who earn their living through IT contracting.

Surprisingly, and contrary to expectations, contractor vacancies also increased in the public sector: temporary contracts rose by 2% on January’s total. The general and staffing sector (which includes retail and engineering) also saw a healthy rise in demand for permanent posts of 6%. Traditionally, the January rise in appointments falls off rapidly in February but the Adecco figures offer hope that annual the trend is at last being bucked.

Steven Kirkpatrick, Adecco’s Managing Director, welcomed the figures and maintained that they indicate January’s encouraging results were no mere “flash in the pan”. Rather, they suggest the return of much-needed confidence amongst employers with each passing month.

Mr Kirkpatrick added: “As expected, there has been a slight decline in advertised temporary roles compared to January’s traditional increase. However, the decline is minimal, supporting the results of our recent research which found that companies have handled the introduction of the Agency Worker Regulations very well and have generally found it to have little impact on their business.”

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