Mersey jobs market in a ‘precarious’ position

In their latest Report on Jobs: North of England survey, KPMG and REC reveals weakening demand for permanent jobs among recruiters in the North West. Tony McDonough reports

Jennifer Lee, office senior partner for KPMG in Liverpool


Liverpool city region’s jobs market is in a “precarious” position, one local business leader says, as a new survey shows weakening demand for permanent employees.

In their latest Report on Jobs: North of England survey, KPMG and REC reveal that while permanent staff appointments continued to rise across the North West in October, the rate of growth eased from September and was “historically subdued”.

And the report, which surveyed 100 recruitment and employment consultancies in the North of England, also showed the quickest rise in demand for temporary staff for almost three years.

While the lifting of the first COVID-19 lockdown saw a rise in economic activity in the summer and into the early autumn, the new restrictions and national lockdown coming into force today may spark a further rise in job losses and a weakening in demand. The report, compiled by IHS Markit, also revealed a reduction in starting pay.

The supply of workers continued to expand markedly amid widespread reports of redundancies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jennifer Lee, office senior partner for KPMG in Liverpool, warned of a tough winter for the local jobs market.

“With the growth in permanent staff recruitment starting to soften, and a big increase in people available for work, the impending lockdown puts our regional jobs market in a precarious position,” she said.

“While the furlough scheme extension may give a brief respite, it will fuel economic uncertainty and further dampen prospects for jobseekers, hitting hiring activity hard. The Government needs to ensure it offers enough financial support to the region’s businesses and opportunities for jobseekers to upskill as we continue to navigate through this crisis.”

Demand for permanent staff across the region continued to decline at the start of the fourth quarter. However, the rate of deterioration eased to the softest in the current eight-month sequence and was only marginal overall.

The latest reduction was also softer than the UK average. Meanwhile, temporary staff vacancies in the North increased for the second month running. Despite easing from September, the rate of growth remained faster than the UK-wide trend.

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