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Permanent placements fell for the second month in a row, while temporary billings expanded modestly, finds a new report.

Although a rise in contractor demand is generally expected in the lead-up to Christmas, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) believes that this could be a trend that continues into the new year.

The report also found that competition for scarce workers and the current cost-of-living crisis continued to push up both temp wages and starting salaries.

The REC and KPMG’s UK Report on Jobs revealed that during November, temp billings continued to rise sharply in the South of England, and expanded modestly in London, while further declines were reported in the Midlands and the North of England.

Looking at a regional analysis, the upturn in demand for contractors was broad-based across all ten employment categories, with the quickest rise in vacancies seen in Nursing/Medical/Care. IT/Computing slipped to the bottom of the rankings and saw only a marginal uptick.

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Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, commented, “This month’s data emphasises that while employers are moderately more cautious in the face of economic uncertainty, this is not yet a major slowdown in hiring.

“While permanent recruitment activity has dropped from the very high levels of earlier in the year, the pace of that drop has tempered this month.

“In contrast, temporary hiring has accelerated again in the run-up to Christmas. There are clearly some seasonal factors at work here, with retail and healthcare recruitment leading the way. But there may also be some switching to temporary going on, as firms maintain flexibility ahead of next year.”

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