At the same time, there's evidence that the old North-South divide is back, with prospects in many parts of the North looking increasingly bleak.
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers about whether they intend to hire additional workers in the coming economic quarter The positive national Seasonally Adjusted Net Employment Outlook of +2% indicates employers are intending to create additional jobs in the next quarter. This compares to a Net Employment Outlook of +3% in Q3 2011.
Utilities is now the most positive sector, with employers in the Water, Gas and Electricity industries reporting hiring intentions of +10%. This sector has proved particularly resilient, as the only sector demonstrating a positive Outlook in every quarter throughout the downturn. Cahill continues: "Not only in Utilities but elsewhere, employers are continuing to see a mismatch in skills where they're either in the wrong geographical location or not available. There are severe skills shortages remaining in Engineering and specialist IT sectors.
However, optimism in London has faltered in Q4, flat this quarter (0%) from +6% in Q3 2011. The heavy reliance on the Finance sector in the capital helps explain this. The Outlook in Scotland continues its long-term negative trend at -1%, although this does represent an improvement from -7% in Q3, while Wales slides further into negative territory at -6% and North West reports -2%. North East of England falls sharply to -3% from +6% and optimism in Northern Ireland has slumped even more sharply, to -10% from +6%.
Manpower UK MD, Mark Cahill said: "Six months ago it looked like the banks were going to lead the way out of recession and could even have filled the hole created by the slowdown in the Public sector. The Finance sector was hiring like nobody's business, it was consistently the most optimistic sector post-recession but this has now fallen away quite dramatically over the summer. We've seen almost 50,000 jobs go in Banking. Make no mistake, there are still jobs to be had in areas like Retail Banking, but in other areas of Banking - there has been a real pull back and this is having an impact on the jobs market as a whole. "Clearly times are hard and we could be in for a period of sustained low growth. Employers have to adjust to the new normal and work out how they operate with far greater agility than ever before, post-recession. Those that do, will win. If firms take the appropriate steps to hold onto their best people, invest in training and embrace flexible working options, they will equip themselves with the tools to survive the storm. Many comparisons have been drawn in recent weeks with the crisis of 2008 economically, but when it comes to jobs, it's important to note that we're not yet approaching 2008 employment lows - this is a real positive."