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Online recruitment is at its highest since 2008

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Online recruitment has risen to its highest level since late 2008, according to Monster, as online recruitment activity continued to edge upwards at the end of the first quarter.Marketing, PR and media led all sectors in monthly growth, and are also showing a considerable annual upturn.

In addition to rising on a quarterly basis, the Monster Employment Index UK rose by 15% from March 2009, reflecting labour demand conditions. From a job availability viewpoint, conditions in March were more favourable than in any month since December 2008.

Following the growth of marketing, PR and media, financial service sectors such as banking, finance, insurance and accounting, audit and taxes also registered notable increases in online demand over the past two months.

Marketing, PR and media was the fastest-growing sector of the month (6% growth), as online demand climbed for a second consecutive month. Year-on-year, the sector has gained 12%, indicating an improved job market, and suggesting that overall spending trends for marketing/media activities are no longer in a state of decline.

Healthcare and social work gained 5% in March as online opportunity levels rebounded after a muted February.

Online recruitment activity in the IT sector also continued to rise gently in March, with opportunity levels at the highest point in 15 months. The increased demand for workers indicates likely upward shifts in trends for computer infrastructure investment by UK firms. In contrast, demand remains weak for other technical service sectors such as engineering and research and development.

Online job demand strengthened in all nine occupational groups monitored by the Index in March. Elementary occupations saw the greatest rise in opportunities since last month, jumping 10%.

Demand for service and sales positions edged up in March, as online job availability continued to expand steadily from the relatively restricted levels seen at the start of the year in a reflection on the increased demand both for workers in the sales and hospitality and tourism sectors.

Professionals registered the smallest rise in online demand in March. The occupational group is nonetheless showing positive annual growth in the Index, reflecting an improved market for white-collar jobseekers compared with a year ago.

Five of the nine UK regions in the Index registered a rise in online job availability between February and March. Northern Ireland showed the highest rate of increase - 11% since last month. The region's online recruitment activity has climbed 25% since the start of the year, but the ascent has been heavily fuelled by gains in sales and related sectors, which are likely to be unsustainable.

London also continued on a track of expansion, rising 30% since March 2009. Scotland and Wales were the only regions to register declines this month, with East Anglia the only region to fall below its level from a year ago, reflecting a still-challenging local climate for job creation.

Julian Acquari, managing director at Monster UK and Ireland, said: "The March Index findings show that UK online recruitment activity continues to trend higher, with the annual growth rate hitting 15%.

"We are seeing encouraging signs in online hiring trends for hard-hit sectors like marketing, while arts and healthcare have seen improvements both on the month and the year. Overall, however, the outlook for the UK economy remains cautious, with unemployment and job creation trends still tenuous."