By Daniel Hunter

The number of new job opportunities available in April showed steady year-on-year growth, in spite of a contracting economy during the first quarter of 2012.

The Reed Job Index of new vacancies showed a seven per cent rise compared to April 2011, although the Easter holidays prompted a six percent fall against the previous month. The Reed Job Index now stands at 134.

“Whilst the Easter holidays led to a disjointed period for UK business and a slowdown in job creation, the number of new opportunities available in April was seven per cent higher than the same point last year, following a steep increase in the first quarter," Martin Warnes, Managing Director of, said.

“Last week's announcement that the economy entered a double dip recession in the first quarter of 2012 is, first and foremost, a confidence blow and contradicts the general trend for growth we've seen throughout the last 12 months.

“The creation of new jobs in growth areas, such as Energy, Engineering and Automotive, is helping give the recovery the momentum it needs. But with the high tax burden on employers recruiting new staff, now is the time for policy makers to ensure the path to a jobs-led recovery is a smooth one.”

Key facts April:

- While there were month-on-month vacancy falls in April for over half of the sectors examined, a third of these, including Engineering (233), IT (172) and Accountancy Qualified (154), had index readings well above April’s national index of 134.

- Demand for new staff working in the energy sector bounced back by 25% compared with March and is 50% up on last year to give an index reading of 126.

- Salaries for new jobs have stayed one per cent lower in real terms than when the index was first set in December 2009. Down one index point from March, UK salaries continue to lag further behind inflation to give a Reed Salary Index reading of 98.

Vacancies available fell across all regions of the UK in April compared with March, however annual growth in new job opportunities was seen in nine of the 12 regions analysed including the East Midlands (up 19%), East Anglia (up 12%) and Northern Ireland (up 32%).

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