UK Job Market Report: April 2020

uk job market report

UK Job Market Report’s main findings: Permanent placements and temporary billings fall at the sharpest rate sine the Global Financial Crisis but candidate availability falls at the slowest rate since June 2013.
Every month we receive the latest figures on the employment market in the South and the UK. The UK Job Market report is kindly provided by IHS Markit, KPMG & REC who gather the key statistics from recruitment consultancies in the area.


  • Permanent placements and temp billings fall at the quickest rate since the global financial crisis
  • Renewed drop in staff vacancies
  • Weakest decline in overall staff availability since June 2013

Commenting on the latest survey results, Ian Brokenshire, Senior Partner for KPMG in Plymouth, said:

“The region’s firms need to remain resilient and do what they can to adapt to and survive this pandemic, and to be able to emerge in the best position possible to ramp up once this crisis comes to an end.”

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“What we should be concerned about is how we stop that short-term disruption becoming longer term economic depression. To do that we need to maintain employment levels as much as possible.”


Permanent placements decline at the fastest rate since February 2009.

There was a new and substantial decline in permanent staff appointments at the end of the first quarter mainly due to the outbreak of COVID-19. It has lead organisations to postpone or cancel recruitment plans. This was the sharpest decline since February 2009. The reduction was broad-based across the four monitored English regions (Midlands, South, North & London) with the North of England reporting the softest fall.

Temp billings continue to decline & at the steepest rate for 11 years.

Temporary billings fell again in March and the rate of decline was the steepest since March 2009. Clients have become more wary of taking on new staff due to the economic uncertainty. IR35 was again cited as a contributing factor, but due to the postponement in the new legislation, this should no longer be affecting the market moving forward. London reported the quickest fall whereas the North of England recorded the softest rate of decline.


Permanent and temporary vacancies have declined in the private sector for the first time since September 2009. 

Both permanent and temporary statistics show a decline. Although only modest, this is the first time numbers have declined since late 2009. Permanent staff vacancies fell at a faster rate than the short-term ones, but both were modest. The largest decline was seen in the Retail and Hotel & Catering sectors. While demand fell across the private sector, there was actually an increase in demand for both temporary and permanent staff within the public sector. A rise in demand was also seen in the temporary Nursing, Medical, Care and Blue Collar sectors.


Modest decline in overall staff availability in March

Although permanent candidate availability is still in decline, the rate of which was the weakest since June 2013 and was weaker than the historical trend. COVID-19 was often cited as one of the main reasons of a decline in permanent candidate availability. It has reportedly caused people to become reluctant to seek new roles, while the redundancies being made by companies affected by the virus tilted the scales in the other direction. At a regional level, the softest fall was reported in the Midlands. The North of England actually reported an increase in permanent candidate availability.

The availability of temporary workers rose for the first time since mid-2013. Three out of four regions reported this increase lead by the North, closely followed by London. The only region to report a decline was the Midlands. The rise was often attributed to redundancies and a slowdown in economic activity due to the virus.


Salaries continue to increase but at their slowest rate since July 2016

Starting salaries continued to rise in March, but the rise was the slowest recorded since July 2016. This was the same across all four regions England with the South of England reporting the softest growth since November 2012. The increase in salaries was linked to the continued candidate shortage, but the trend was softened due to the outbreak of the virus and the lessening demand for staff.

On temp wages as a whole, agencies reported only a slight rise in the average hourly rate of pay. The slowest reported since February 2013 when the rise began. Again it was attributed to lower staff demand. On a regional level, while the rate of pay increased across the South of England and the Midlands, London and the North of England actually reported a decline.


Data from the Office for National Statistics reports that the average weekly earnings across the UK rose by 1.6% on an annual basis during the final quarter of 2019 to £647.

The South East was the fasted reported growth of all regions during the last quarter with average weekly earnings rising by 6.3% to £728. The sharpest fall was seen in London where average weekly earnings dropped by 4.8%  on the previous year to £805.

DEMAND FOR SKILLS (South of England)

Skills in Short Supply: Permanent staff

Accounting/Financial: Accountants, Auditors, Bookkeepers, Estimators, Financial Planners, Insurance, Paraplanners, Tax Professionals & Taxation.
See our Finance Jobs
Construction: Construction Sales & Quantity Surveyors
Engineering: Calibration Engineers, Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Senior Electronic Engineers & Technicians
See our Engineering Jobs
Executive/Professional: Business Development, Directors, Executives, Geologists, Legal, Management & Marketing
See our Marketing Jobs
IT/Computing: CAD, Data Scientists, Database Developers, Design Managers, Developers, IT, Software Engineers, Technical Sales, Technology
Secretarial/Clerical: Administration & Office Staff
See our Admin Jobs
Other: Sales
See our Sales Jobs


Sources: Thanks as always to IHS Markit, KPMG and REC for the data provided.

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