By Ben Simmons

The number of people placed in permanent jobs by North of England recruitment consultants continued to rise in February.

Growth has now been sustained for seven months, and February’s increase was again stronger than the UK average. This was the key finding of the first-ever regional Report on Jobs for the North of England published today by the REC and KPMG.

In contrast, North of England recruitment agencies’ billings from the employment of temporary/contract staff were lower in February. Although only slight, the decline signalled by the regional data was the first such fall recorded in two-and-a-half years.

The data also shows that the North of England registered a slower rise in permanent appointments than in the Midlands and the South of England. In contrast, there was a fractional decline seen in London. For temp workers, all regions recorded falls in net billings, with London registering the steepest drop.

February data on North of England job vacancies supported the findings on placements, with further rises in the demand for both permanent and temporary staff. In both cases, growth rates strengthened to maintain the positive start to 2012. For permanent staff, vacancies rose at the sharpest pace since April 2011, while for temporary workers the rise was an eight-month high.

North of England average starting salaries were slightly down in February, following January’s marginal rise. Recruitment consultants reported that clients were trying to keep costs down.
Hourly rates of pay to North of England temporary workers increased modestly during February. Temp pay has now improved for six months in succession, although the latest rise was largely driven by the effect of the Agency Worker Regulations.

The North of England saw generally more subdued pay pressures than the rest of the UK in February. Permanent staff salaries fell at a marginally quicker pace than the UK average, while the modest rise in temp pay was also slightly weaker than seen at the national level.
Falls in permanent salaries in London and the North of England contrasted with modest rises recorded in the Midlands and the South of England.

Permanent staff availability in the North of England increased for an eleventh successive month in February. The rate of growth was solid, but eased markedly since January to the slowest since last August. Growth was broadly comparable to the UK average.

Short-term candidate availability in the North of England continued to rise at a sharp pace in February. Over 31 per cent of recruitment consultancies surveyed reported a rise in temp availability, extending the period of growth to 18 months. The rate of expansion was also stronger than the UK average.

February’s survey showed that the availability of staff for both permanent and temporary positions in the North of England increased at faster rates than respective UK averages. Moreover, of the four broad English regions covered, the availability of both permanent and temporary workers increased at the sharpest rates in the North of England.