Demand for both permanent and temporary/contracting staff continued to grow in February but at the slowest rate for four months, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs survey reveals.

Recruiters reported that permanent starting salaries reached a 17-month high but that hourly rates for temporary and contracting staff showed little change, with only a minimal rise. Demand for permanent and temporary/contractor staff was greatest in the North, but demand for the latter rose only fractionally in London and the Midlands and fell very slightly in the South.

Growth in private sector vacancies for permanent and contractor staff continued to rise, with the latter seeing the sharpest increase in three months – a trend that partially offset the decrease registered in the public sector.

Umbrella Company Employees working in the IT skills market can draw some comfort from the strong demand for IT and computing workers, which topped the demand league table in February. The weakest demand was for blue collar workers, although all eight of the sectors monitored in the survey showed varying degrees of growth.

Tom Hadley, the REC director of policy, said: “This month saw increased demand for both temporary and permanent workers across all the sectors we measure, which is a really positive indicator for a continued recovery.”

A note of caution, however, was sounded by Bernard Brown, KPMG partner and head of business services,  who said that a sustainable improvement in hiring was dependent upon economic growth. He added: “Until this happens we are likely to see a continuation of this scenario, where two steps forward are followed by one step back.  In other words, recovery may be on the way, but it is a long path and one negotiated by very small steps.”

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