Sharp increase in number of jobs

The labour market is enjoying a rapid rate of expansion, a new survey has revealed.

According to the latest Report on Jobs published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the number of permanent staff appointments made by recruiting agencies rose again in March.

The rate of growth was its strongest since 1997.

There was an improvement in short-term appointments, too, which accelerated at their fastest in 34 months.

The recuperation of the labour market was reflected in the salaries being offered. March saw another average increase, although the rise was not as sharp as that registered in February's 20-month high.

The figures suggest that the pay freezes and low settlements of the recession may be over.

Kevin Green, the REC's chief executive, said: "Permanent appointments increasing at the fastest pace for over 12 years is the clearest sign yet of a revival in the UK jobs market. A rise in both temporary and contract work at the sharpest rate for nearly three years shows how they continue to provide vital flexibility for UK businesses as well as a valuable route back into work for job-seekers.

"However, the overall outlook is tempered by public expenditure cuts which are already impacting on recruitment in this sector. Deep-rooted reforms and innovative approaches to public sector resourcing will be needed in order to maintain frontline services. While high-end sectors such as IT and engineering continue to show strong growth, demand is also increasing for secretarial and back-office support roles."