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Business confidence in the UK economy turned positive for the first time since June 2018, finds a new report by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

The latest JobsOutlook survey revealed the easing of lockdown restrictions has resulted in employers becoming increasingly optimistic about the economy.

For example, in the three months to May, confidence surged by a notable 21 percentage points to net: +11, which is the first time employer confidence in the economy has been positive since June 2018, and the highest level recorded since July 2016.

The report also shows that short term hiring intentions (in the next three months) for contractor/temp agency workers rose by six percentage points to net: +24 – in May alone, this surged to net: +39.

With regards to demand for the next 4-12 months, this rose to net: +24, markedly higher than the same period last year.

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Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, commented on the findings, “This surge in employers’ confidence in the UK economy is remarkable – an improvement of 61 percentage points from the previous quarter as restrictions were lifted and businesses started to open again. Positivity about hiring has steadily improved alongside that, and we are now seeing the highest levels of confidence for five years.

“However, we are seeing labour and skills shortages across the economy right now, which the pandemic has made worse. These could threaten to slow down the recovery if not addressed quickly. It’s vital that companies and governments come together and improve access to training and support for everyone who needs it, so that jobseekers are able to find work in those sectors that are growing.”

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