KPMG LLP: Stronger increase in recruitment activity as more parts of the economy re-open

Key findings (released 07/10/2020):

  • Permanent placements and temp billings both rise sharply
  • Vacancies expand for first time since February, albeit marginally
  • Redundancies drive a further rapid rise in candidate numbers

A further recovery in hiring activity was seen during September, according to the latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs survey, with both permanent placements and temp billings rising at steeper rates. Panel members indicated that the easing of lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak had led clients to take on more staff. At the same time, overall vacancies rose for the first time since February, albeit only slightly.

Nonetheless, redundancies stemming from the pandemic led to a further substantial increase in staff supply, which dampened pay trends for both permanent and temporary workers.

Total candidate availability continued to rise at a substantial pace in September, despite the rate of growth easing from August’s near-record high. Underlying data showed that both permanent and temporary staff supply rose at softer, but still historically sharp, rates. Higher candidate numbers were widely linked to ongoing redundancies.

Starting salaries awarded to permanent workers continued to fall solidly in September, with the rate of decline accelerating slightly since August. Meanwhile, temp wages fell only modestly. In both cases, rising candidate numbers, subdued demand for workers and greater pressure on clients’ budgets were linked to reduced pay.

Permanent staff appointments rose across all four monitored English regions bar London. The steepest rate of growth was recorded in the Midlands.

The Midlands recorded the fastest increase in temp billings, followed by the North of England.

Commenting on the latest survey results, James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG, said: “With increasing unease over what will happen in the coming months with the pandemic, Brexit and with the end of the furlough scheme in sight, the uncertainty for UK business is not going to dissipate anytime soon.”

The report is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.

The full press release can be accessed here.