Jobbing PAYE contractors may be encouraged by trends emerging in the February JobsOutlook report from the REC. Employer confidence has hit its highest level in 12 months, with hiring intentions continuing to improve steadily from December.

62% of hirers said that they planned to expand their permanent workforce over the next three months, while over half (54%) said that they would maintain current levels. Longer term, 57% said they planned to increase their permanent staff.

Contractors working through umbrella companies on the lookout for shorter term contracts can draw some comfort from the fact that, despite worries earlier in the year that the AWR was beginning to dampen the temporary jobs market, employer hiring intentions for these workers appears to be strong. 31% of respondents said that, in the coming three months, they intended to expand their temporary workforce (which of course includes many skilled contractors) while over half (54%) said that they intended to maintain it at current levels. Over the longer term, 26% of hirers plan to take on more temporary personnel and 63% plan to maintain existing levels.

The REC’s Director of Research, Roger Tweedy, said that the results of the poll strongly suggest that business and consumer confidence is picking up, even though it remains fragile. Sounding a mixed note of caution and optimism, he added:

“Last year, employer confidence began to build at this time only to fall away sharply over the summer, so it is still early days. However, there are signs that the current momentum in the jobs market will be more durable this time round.”

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