It will hardly have many PAYE umbrella contractors popping open champagne bottles but the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs, which is published today, does contain a few ‘glimmers of hope’ that the economy may not be heading for the knacker’s yard just yet.

Permanent staff appointments rose slightly in January, marking the first time in four months that this has happened. Salaries for permies, however, languished in January, rising only minimally, while hourly rates for contractors and temporary staff climbed again after sinking in December.

On the down side, contractors working through umbrella companies hardly experienced a jobs bonanza during the month, although the AWR-induced Armageddon that some commentators had forecast for January failed to materialise. Growth of temporary billings fell slightly, but even so demand for both permanent and contractor roles was particularly strong in IT, engineering and construction. Hotel and catering job seekers had a disappointing month, with the sector showing a marked decline in demand.

REC Chief Executive Kevin Green remarked “This month’s Report on Jobs highlights that there are glimmers of hope for the UK jobs market with permanent placements increasing for the first time in four months.” He went on to note that although temporary billings dropped slightly, they represented an improvement on December’s figure, and that “there is still little evidence that the Agency Workers Regulations have had a significant impact on hiring and employers are still making considerable use of flexible working arrangements.”

KPMG’s Head of Business Services, Bernard Brown, added “Perhaps employers are beginning to accept that they need to have the right people in place to kick start the economy?”

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