Number of permanent staff appointments increases again

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The number of permanent staff appointments in the Midlands increased again during May.

Though softening from April’s seven-year high, the rate of increase remained marked, as companies continued to hire amid a further easing of lockdown restrictions.

The latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs also shows that temp billings continued to rise, however the rate of increase weakened to the softest recorded since July 2020.

Demand and supply mismatches remained stark during May, as the strongest fall in permanent staff availability in two years coincided with a robust upturn in vacancies.
The report is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to around 100 recruitment and employment consultancies in the Midlands.

Permanent staff appointments rise at softer pace
The number of permanent placements across the Midlands rose for the third consecutive month in May. The rate of increase softened from the more than seven-year high in April, though remained well above the series average. According to anecdotal evidence, companies kept up hiring amid a further easing of lockdown restrictions and improved confidence.

Across the four monitored English regions, the Midlands saw the slowest upturn in permanent placements during May.

As has been the case in each of the last 11 months,  temp billings in the Midlands rose during May. That said, the rate of increase was the slowest since July 2020 and only moderate overall. Firms generally commented that the lifting of lockdown measures required additional staff, though a lack of available temporary workers hindered the rise somewhat. The rise in temp billings in the Midlands was also considerably slower than that seen at the national level.

Recruiters across the Midlands signalled a sustained increase in the number of permanent vacancies during May. The latest uptick softened from April’s survey record, yet remained at a historically high level. Anecdotal evidence noted firms had maintained hiring as lockdown restrictions eased further.

At the same time, temporary vacancies rose at a quicker pace in May, with the rate of increase the steepest recorded since June 2015.

Downturn in permanent staff availability accelerates
A second successive monthly decrease in permanent staff supply was recorded in May. Moreover, the pace of the fall quickened sharply and pushed the respective seasonally adjusted Index to the lowest level for two years. Panellists commonly attributed the downturn to uncertainty in the jobs market that had made candidates unwilling to change roles. The Midlands recorded the second-softest decline, behind London as all four monitored regions saw staff availability fall.
The availability of temporary staff across the Midlands fell for the third month in a row during May. The rate of decline was broadly unchanged from the previous survey period and was marked overall.

All four monitored English regions recorded falls in temp staff supply in the latest survey period, with recruiters in the Midlands reporting the second-weakest decline, only behind London.

Average starting salaries rise sharply
Salaries awarded to permanent new joiners across the Midlands increased at a quicker pace in May. According to respondents, stronger demand for skilled workers amid shortages was a key factor in higher starting salaries. The rate of increase was marked, and the steepest recorded since October 2018.

Across the four monitored English regions, only recruiters in London recorded a slower rise in average starting salaries than the Midlands.

Latest data highlighted a sixth successive increase in average pay rates for short-term staff in the Midlands. The rate of wage inflation quickened noticeably from April and was the sharpest since September 2019.

All four English regions reported strong rises in temp rates, as only London-based recruiters reported a softer rise in wage inflation than those in the Midlands.