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Jobs market figures for April show continued improvement but growth was weaker than in March


Permanent recruitment levels increased strongly in April, albeit at a slower pace than March's peak, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

The report on jobs found there was further expansion of demand for staff during April. Growth of permanent vacancies was only just weaker than February's 31-month high, while temporary/contract staff vacancies increased at the sharpest rate since January 2008.   

The availability of staff to fill job vacancies continued to rise in April. But the latest increases in both permanent and temporary/contract staff availability were slower than in the previous month.

And recruitment consultants reported another increase in permanent staff salaries in April. Moreover, the rate of inflation was the sharpest since March 2008. Temporary/contract staff hourly pay rates increased at the fastest pace for just over two years.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: "May's Report on Jobs highlights continued growth in both temporary and permanent employment, although the rate of growth has slowed slightly compared with previous months. The first test of the new administration will be to nurture the slowly improving but fragile jobs market.

"The incoming government must address two immediate priorities - stimulating jobs growth and reducing expenditure without creating a public-sector recession through shedding thousands of posts. Private-sector employers have used short-time work, sabbaticals and pay freezes as a means of reducing costs while retaining high-performing staff. Innovative resourcing strategies will be equally crucial within the public sector."

And Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, added: "The latest figures show that the UK jobs market is continuing on the road to recovery albeit at a slower pace than the previous month. While the UK's gradual emergence from recession is starting to lead to better job prospects in the private sector, many public-sector employers have finally woken up to the scale of the financial challenge that is coming their way.

"It is now becoming increasingly clear that the long predicted public-sector recession has started to hit the jobs market and therefore the upward trend we have seen over the last couple of months may come to a halt."