Hiring falls across the country as uncertainty impacts business confidence

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Recruitment fell sharply in April, suggesting that employers are holding back on hiring as business confidence continues to be impacted by economic uncertainty.  That’s according to the latest statistics from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) – the trade body for the professional recruitment sector.

The data – provided by the global leader in software for the staffing industry, Bullhorn – revealed that permanent and contract vacancies fell 16 per cent and 13 per cent respectively between March and April.

The annual comparison also shows a decline in recruitment.

Jobs fell 24 per cent for permanent roles and 21 per cent for contract positions between April 2022 and 2023.

According to the statistics, the number of placements also fell in April, down 25 per cent for permanent and contract positions between March and April 2023.

While this is indicative of a slowdown in hiring over the Easter holidays, the annual comparisons point to a contraction that is being driven by a lack of business confidence.

Permanent placements were down almost a third (-31 per cent) between April 2022 and the same period in 2023, while contract also fell 27 per cent.

The data does, however, indicate a monthly uptick in average permanent salaries which, although only small at 2 per cent, does suggest that remuneration is creeping up as a combination of the cost-of-living crisis and shortages of highly skilled professionals prevails across the UK.

Ann Swain, global CEO of APSCo, said: “The latest figures do present a level of concern for the UK.

“The recruitment market often serves as a bellwether for the broader economic climate, making this sharp annual fall in jobs and placements an issue that all business leaders and government authorities should take note of.

“The data suggests that we have shifted from a lack of candidates to a sharp drop in requirements as business confidence falls amid economic uncertainty.

“While reports from the OBR suggest that we have narrowly avoided a recession so far, we could be heading in a different direction unless confidence in the economy is strengthened, and that needs to be underpinned by a strong labour market.”