Static salaries but more opportunities for contractors

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Rates of pay showed few signs of improvement in the latest Reed Job Index, but a leap in available vacancies means that contractors still have plenty to smile about.

The recruitment firm’s latest research shows that the average salary for a vacancy advertised online stayed flat in September compared to the previous month - since the job market tends to pick up as summer turns into autumn, this is perhaps particularly worrying. But the real difference is evident over the past few years: rather than seeing improvement in line with inflation, workers around the UK have noticed pay slipping by four per cent compared to 2009 when the index began.

But this month’s data also suggests that the number of opportunities available to both permanent staff and contractors is improving considerably. In fact, the number of vacancies advertised on the recruiter’s website rose by three per cent in September. Though this is perhaps expected with the end of the summer holidays, the annual improvement is unmistakable. Compared to the same month last year, vacancies shot up by a noticeable 24 per cent. What’s more, the Reed site saw 7,978 jobs added to its pages on Wednesday September 18th - the highest number of additions in a single day for five years. chairman James Reed says that after three months of wage stagnation, worries over pay are unlikely to disappear in the near future.

“While it is clear that 2013 will be far more fruitful for jobseekers than 2012, there is still a sense that salaries aren’t going anywhere fast,” he explains. Nevertheless, he adds that the number of opportunities available will give UK workers hope as the economy gets back on its feet.

The increase in vacancies was apparent across the whole of the UK and in the majority of industries, improving on previous indexes where specific sectors drove overall growth. Every UK region demonstrated a rise in opportunities from last year, and sizeable leaps of anywhere from 13 to 46 per cent were recorded.

But it was Scotland that performed best, with its impressive 46.3 per cent annual rise in vacancies, perhaps thanks to renewed hiring in the oil and gas sector based around Aberdeen. It was the East Midlands that came second, beating the economic hub London into third with its 25 per cent rise. Only slightly behind, with 24.9 and 24.8 per cent increases respectively, were the north-east and north-west. This is particularly encouraging as these areas are among those that have been hardest hit by the UK’s economic struggles.

Most industries also reported signs of improvement, though it was the construction and property sector that led the way with a striking 78 per cent increase. Other contractor industries also showed strong performances, with manufacturing rising by more than 30 per cent.

“Our vacancy figures have indicated an improving picture of the state of the UK economy since before the beginning of 2013. This has been echoed by other industry statistics more recently,” noted Mr Reed.

“While previously growth was being driven by a handful of sectors and locations, encouragingly September saw jobs growth across the vast majority of sectors and across all regions.”

By Victoria McDonnell

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