By Claire West

Ahead of the publication of the latest unemployment figures today, the REC’s September JobsOutlook has shown increasing caution in terms of employer hiring intentions over the next three months.

The survey’s Jobs Barometer, which tracks employer confidence, has fallen to a six month low as the impact of public sector cuts continues to cast a shadow over the jobs market.

This in turn has started to dampen expectations in possible jobs growth into 2011. Ninety five per cent of employers say they anticipate their permanent workforce will either grown or remain in the same in the next three months — a drop of four points on last month.

The number of employers expecting to increase or maintain current use of temporary workers has gone down one point.

The survey shows that long term plans for the use of temporary workers has fallen a significant six points with 76 per cent of employers saying they will increase or maintain the levels of temporary staffing.

With regards to the hiring of permanent staff over the next 12 months, 92 per cent of employers plan to either to increase their headcount or keep it static, a change of three points from last month.

Commenting on the JobsOutlook findings, Roger Tweedy, the REC's Director of Research, said:

“The results again show how elusive confidence is among employers, despite some positive NOP data on improving consumer confidence. An indicator of this increased caution is the number of employers implementing head-count freezes which has gone up to 37 per cent from 30 per cent.”

Looking at the outlook for temporary staffing, Roger Tweedy added:

i]“Although more employers are looking to reduce the number temporary staff, the latest Labour Market Statistics confirm how important flexible work is to the UK labour market. The overall number of temporary workers has exceeded 1.5 million for the first time which demonstrates their crucial role in helping employers to deliver key services and to meet peaks in demand.”[/i]

Employers also provided feedback on how spending cuts would be likely to impact on their businesses. Whilst 36 per cent in both public and private sector saying said that it was too early to know, 23 per cent of public sector employers expected a serious impact. Only three per cent in the private sector and seven per cent in the public sector believe it will have a very serious bearing on their organisations.

JobsOutlook is based on a monthly survey of employers with results based on a sample of 600 on a three month rolling basis.