Billings for temporary/contracting staff soared to a 29-month high in July, while permanent appointments rose at the steepest rate since March 2010 and the growth in vacancies hit a six-year peak, according to the latest Report on Jobs from the REC and accountancy giant KPMG.

Umbrella Company Employees and other freelancers contracting in the temporary market also saw their pay rates increase at the steepest rate since January 2008, while permanent salary increases reached their fastest rate since 2011.

While demand for permanent staff fell in in the public sector during July after rising in June, demand for temporary/contracting staff remained solid; in fact, it rose to its fastest pace this year. Meanwhile, private sector demand for both permanent and temp/contracting staff rose at its sharpest rate since data first being collected in 2011.

More generally, temporary/contracting billings grew in all the English regions in July, with the strongest increases occurring in the North and the South. Each of the nine categories of permanent and temporary/contracting work saw expansions in July, with nursing/medical/care topping the temp league table. Construction followed close behind, enjoying a second month of impressive growth.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “The jobs market continues to skyrocket with permanent employment and temporary placements at three and two year highs, and vacancy growth accelerating to a six year high. A combination of confidence returning to the UK economy and higher employer demand have contributed to this impressive set of figures.”

The acceleration in starting salaries during July, Mr Green added, was “an early indicator of increased competition for candidates and skills shortages in a growing number of sectors.”

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