By Daniel Hunter

The latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs signalled the first reduction in permanent placements in six months during February.

This partly reflected softer client demand, with permanent vacancy growth the slowest for over a year. Meanwhile, temp staff billings continued to increase in February, but the latest rise was much weaker than in January. Average pay trends also deteriorated, with permanent salaries stagnating over the month and temp hourly pay falling solidly.

The Bank of Scotland Labour Market Barometer — a composite indicator designed to provide a single figure snapshot of labour market conditions — signalled only a modest improvement in Scottish job market conditions in February. At 51.2, down from 53.9 in January, the Barometer was the lowest in seven months and below the UK average (53.1) for the first time in almost two years.

"The February Barometer showed Scottish job market conditions continuing to improve but at a marginal rate," Donald MacRae, Chief Economist at Bank of Scotland, said.

"The number of people appointed to permanent jobs fell for the first time in six months while the growth in vacancies for permanent jobs was the slowest for over a year.

"The rate of growth in vacancies for temporary jobs remained strong although slowing to a three-month low. These results highlight the fragility of the recovery from the recession."

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