UK permanent staff appointments fell for the twentieth consecutive month in May but the pace of decrease was the softest since March 2023, a report compiled by S&P Global showed on Monday.

Recruitment consultants cited delayed decision making and a lack of demand amongst companies as reasons for the fall in recruitment activity, the KPMG/REC Report on Jobs revealed.

Temp billings also decreased in May, with the decline the weakest since January. Further, data showed that starting pay for candidates increased in May amid reports of a competitive market landscape, alongside evidence of a ripple impact on base pay rates following increases in the national minimum and living wages.

Nonetheless, both permanent and temporary staff pay grew at a slightly slower pace than seen in April.

Demand for staff dropped for the seven straight months in May. The latest fall was exclusively led by permanent workers as temp staff demand was unchanged in the survey period.

Further, there was another steep increase in staff availability in May. The rate of growth was the sharpest since December 2020.

Redundancies, higher unemployment and reduced demand for staff led to the broad rise in candidate availability.

"We know our labour market is resilient," Jon Holt, Chief Executive and Senior Partner of KPMG in the UK, said.

"The big picture is that unemployment is historically low with the ease of filling vacancies back to pre-pandemic levels," Holt said.

Taken together with today's data and expected interest rate cuts, inflation easing and increased consumer confidence over the summer, Holt sees a better economic outlook for the second half of 2024.

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