Intrepid PAYE umbrella contractors hoping for new assignments this summer can draw a little comfort from a new survey which reveals a favourable jobs outlook despite the apparent gloom in the economy.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, suggests that redundancy intentions amongst employers are falling and that prospects for new recruitment are more favourable now than at any time in more than a year.

Of the 1,000 companies surveyed, 65% plan to recruit more staff in Q2 2012, a proportion that gets higher in sectors such as finance, real estate and insurance. Employers intending to make redundancies have fallen in number from 37% in Q1 to 32% in Q2.

The private sector employment barometer included in the poll has also risen from just plus 10 three months ago to plus 25 now, a development that should reassure contractors working through umbrella companies that new opportunities are indeed afoot during the summer.

CIPD’s public policy adviser, Gerwyn Davies, welcomed the developments but warned that the UK employment market was still in a fragile state. Rising labour costs, slowing productivity and news of the double-dip recession may yet cause employers to re-evaluate their current staffing, he said, and “swings in confidence” are not unlikely during the rest of the year. 2012 may therefore be a year of greater labour market volatility than 2011, when unemployment rose steadily.

Even so, the ranks of the UK’s contractor community appear to be swelling, with recent figures from the Office for National Statistics suggesting that the self-employed workforce grew by 89,000 in the first quarter of 2012.

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