Agency billings for the placement of Umbrella Company employees and other temporary/contracting staff rose at a faster rate than for permanent staff during November and climbed faster than in the previous month, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs reveals.

Of the disciplines monitored, IT & computing topped the demand league table for temp/contractor staff.

Pay rates for temporary and contracting staff also grew solidly, rising faster than in October. Permanent staff also saw a quickening in the rate of starting salary increases after the previous month’s eight-month low.

Permanent candidate availability continued to fall markedly in November, leaving a raft of skills in short supply. The availability of temp/contracting staff also fell, but at the slowest rate since March.

The REC and KPMG took slightly different slants in their interpretation of the data. REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “It’s been a strong year for the UK labour market and it’s a sign of continuing business confidence that employers are expanding their permanent workforces and are prepared to make more generous offers to new recruits to attract the right people. Over a quarter of recruiters say that starting salaries for equivalent jobs are getting better by the month, driven by competition between employers for quality candidates.”

Bernard Brown, head of business services and partner at KPMG, noted the slow rate of increase in permanent staff, commenting: “Not much sign of a happy Christmas in the job market.” He added: “This follows an unexpected fall in investment in the UK in Q3.”

Mr Brown speculated that political uncertainty in the UK, especially concerning its position on Europe, was in danger of inaugurating a negative trend in the jobs market.

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