U.K. Companies Hire the Most in 23 Years After Lockdown Loosens

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U.K. companies are on a hiring spree after the government relaxed lockdown rules, employing permanent staff at the fastest pace in 23 years and advertising the most vacancies in three years.

The figures from the consultant KPMG and the online job placement agency Adzuna add to evidence that the economy is bouncing back strongly from last year’s recession. That will feed into the Bank of England’s debate on when to ease off on its stimulus.

“The jobs market seems to be firing on all cylinders, and we need this momentum to continue for our economy and businesses to fully bounce back,” said Claire Warnes, partner at KPMG.

U.K. Companies Hire the Most in 23 Years After Lockdown Loosens

The Office for National Statistics released real-time data on Friday showing more parts of the economy are bouncing back from rules that closed most non-essential stores and restaurants through the first quarter of the year.

  • The volume of online job advertisements on May 28 was at 127% of its February 2020 average
  • Job adverts up 8 percentage points from the previous week, based on data from Adzuna
  • CHAPS data from the Bank of England shows card purchases at 95% of their average in February 2020, up 31 percentage points since Jan. 7
  • “Work-related” purchases have seen the largest increase in the CHAPS figures
  • Retail footfall rose 7% in the past week and was at 73% of the comparable level in 2019, according to Springboard data
U.K. Companies Hire the Most in 23 Years After Lockdown Loosens

Improved confidence among consumers and businesses boosted demand for staff to a near-record rate while the pool of available workers shrank at the fastest rate in four years, according to a survey from KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. Relaxed restrictions lifted their Permanent Placements Index to 67.4, showing strong growth.

Staff shortages worsened for the third month running, with recruiters saying lingering uncertainty from the pandemic and the furlough scheme weighed on the availability of permanent candidates, KPMG and REC said.

The pool of available temporary staff also dried up significantly, driven by strong demand, fewer workers from the European Union and the reluctance of some to seek new roles during the Covid-19 crisis.

U.K. Companies Hire the Most in 23 Years After Lockdown Loosens

In Britain, hospitality companies were among the hardest hit by rules that closed leisure venues and pushed workers onto the government’s furlough wage subsidy program.

“With demand spiking, the skills and labor shortages that already existed in the U.K. have come into sharper focus -- and Covid has only made them worse,” said Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC. “This is the most pressing issue in the jobs market right now, and has the potential to slow down the recovery.”

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