The latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs makes decidedly grim reading, especially for job-hunters seeking permanent appointments. Contractors working through umbrella companies may not feel like uncorking the champagne either, but they fared rather better than permanent candidates during November even so.

Permanent staff placements fell for the second consecutive month in November, hitting a rate of decline not seen since July 2009. The growth of permanent job vacancies is now at its lowest for over two years. Temporary billings, by contrast, grew during November, a trend which has continued unbroken for 28 months. Even so, the rate of growth was subdued, and feebler than that recorded in October.

PAYE umbrella contractors will hardly be jubilant about this, although they can perhaps derive a measure of comfort that contracting is not contracting, as it were, despite grim economic conditions.

Salaries and hourly rates for contractors rose very slightly, marking a ten-month low in rate rises.

REC Chief Executive Kevin Green said “This month’s Report on Jobs from the REC and KPMG highlights a rapidly declining jobs market. The market has been slowing since May but this slowdown has accelerated in the autumn. This is being driven by the double whammy of falling business and consumer confidence.”

“This is bad news for those out of work and, as a consequence, we expect unemployment to rise in December and January. On a positive note, however, the report shows that temporary staff appointments are still growing, albeit at a decreasing rate.”

He called on the government to take “more radical action” in the New Year to revive confidence if it fails to pick up very shortly.

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