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February 3rd, 2021

Growth of candidate numbers continues to ease in December

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the Total Staff Availability Index signalled an increase in overall candidate availability for the ninth month running
in December. However, the rate of expansion continued to ease from August’s recent high and, though sharp, was the least marked since April.
Slower increases in both permanent and temporary staff supply were registered at the end of the year.

Softest increase in permanent staff availability since April

Latest survey data revealed a further rise in the number of candidates seeking permanent roles during December. The rate of expansion remained
sharp, despite easing to an eight-month low. Recruiters frequently linked higher permanent labour supply to redundancies related to the
pandemic and people seeking new roles due to concerns over current job security. Data broken down by region showed a broad based upturn in permanent candidate numbers, with the steepest increase seen in the capital.

Supply of short-term workers expands at slowest rate for nine months

Recruitment consultancies pointed to a further expansion of temp candidate supply in December, thereby stretching the current period of growth to ten months. The pace of expansion eased for the fifth month in a row, however, and was the softest seen since March. Nonetheless, the rise was still among the quickest recorded since the global financial crisis and sharp. On a regional basis, London reported the quickest increase in temp candidate numbers, while the slowest upturn was seen in the Midlands.

Fractional Increase in permanent starters’ salaries

December data signalled a fractional rise in salaries awarded to new permanent joiners. This ended an eight-month period of falling pay. There
were reports of some firms offering higher pay to secure quality candidates. However, recruiters also noted that the pandemic and rising candidate
supply had weighed on overall growth. Starting salaries rose in the South of England, were broadly stagnant in the Midlands, and fell in London and the North of England.

Temp wages rise for first time since March

Average hourly rates of pay for temporary staff across the UK increased for the first time in nine months in December. That said, the rate of growth
was only modest and weaker than the long-run series average. Where higher temp pay was recorded, it was generally attributed to efforts to
secure skilled workers, but there were still reports that higher staff availability had curbed overall wage inflation. All four monitored English regions bar London registered higher temp pay in December