By Daniel Hunter

Manufacturing pay settlements remain stable through the second of the main annual pay bargaining periods, according to the latest survey on pay data from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and JAM Recruitment.

According to the EEF/JAM pay survey of 160 companies the average settlement level for the three months to the end of March was 2.4%, a touch lower than the revised 2.5% settlement average in the 3 months to the end of March and in line with settlements agreed in the 3 months to January — the other main settlement period for manufacturers.

The proportion of pay freezes edged higher, accounting for 12% of deals agreed in the 3 months to April. This is the highest share of pay freezes reported so far this year, but in line with the average reported across 2012. The percentage of deferments in the same period ticked up to 6%.

Ms Lee Hopley, EEF Chief Economist, said: “Stability in manufacturing pay settlements has become the norm. So long as economic uncertainty, demand for skilled workers and above target inflation are weighing off against each other, there is unlikely to be shift in this trend in the coming months.”

John Morris, Chief Executive of JAM Recruitment, said: “We’re seeing employers increasingly readying themselves for growth, with more positions being advertised and a renewed focus on sourcing candidates for hard-to-fill positions. This activity may well be spurred on by the recent positive ONS figures showing a significant rise in UK manufacturing output in March 2013.

“Pay, however, remains a sensitive area and the caution that has characterised the market for a number of years is still very much at play. When the recovery starts to gain momentum, settlement levels could pick up again, leading to more workforce mobility and placing pressure on recruitment strategies, but the timing of this remains uncertain.”

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