UK job market strengthened in December for first time in three months – REC

FILE PHOTO: Workers cross London Bridge during the morning rush hour in London, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s job market strengthened for the first time in three months in December, before a renewed lockdown this month, with an increase in permanent hiring and a small rise in the number of vacancies, a monthly survey of recruiters showed on Friday.

“The upturn was generally attributed to increased business activity and an improvement in market confidence, partly due to recent vaccine news,” the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said.

Growth in permanent hiring remained modest, reflecting ongoing headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic and Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Demand was strongest for nurses and other medical staff, and weakest for hotels and catering workers, reflecting how COVID has filled up Britain’s hospitals and led to the shutdown of most of the hospitality sector.

Many employers preferred to hedge their bets: spending on temporary staff rose at the fastest rate since October 2018.

“We will have to see what January brings with a new national lockdown sure to fuel economic uncertainty, alongside preparing and adapting to the new relationship with the EU,” said James Stewart, vice chair at accountants KPMG, who sponsor the survey.

Britain’s official jobless rate remains relatively low at 4.9% for the three months to October, but most economists expect it to rise sharply if government furlough payments stop as planned at the end of April.

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