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UK employer demand rose in February

UK employer demand rose in February but active job-seekers increased faster

Job vacancies up one per cent, average salaries up five per cent
Active job-seekers up 50 per cent this year to reach record highs

Demand from UK employers for new workers rose steadily upwards in February. The number of new job opportunities increased by one per cent in February compared to January, with average salaries up by five per cent according to the Reed Job Index, published for the first time today (Wednesday 10 March 2010).

However active job-seekers have flooded back into the job market in 2010 at a much faster rate than new jobs, as returning consumer confidence has released pent up demand. The number of applications per job averaged 19 in February, which was 50 per cent higher than last year according to the report.

Each month the Reed Job Index tracks changes in the number of new job opportunities on offer compared to the previous month and against a baseline of 100 set in December last year. The Reed Job Index is based on data from the UKs largest job board reed.co.uk, which every day has over 90,000 job opportunities from 8,000 recruiters across 37 career sectors throughout the UK.

The Reed Job Index figure was 105 in February, which was a 1 point increase compared to January and 5 points above December last year, when the Index baseline was first set at 100.

Employer demand rose most steeply for Graduates and HR professionals, as well as across the private and not-for-profit sectors in areas such as Accountants, Financial Services, IT, Charity and Voluntary, and Administrator staff.

In contrast the Public Sector appeared to be feeling the impact of budget threats. The Reed Public Sector Job Index plunged to 75, the lowest level of any sector, and demand for new staff was also down in associated areas such as Social Care and Education.

Salaries for new job opportunities rose five per cent on average, with growth led by Londons robust six per cent increase, giving a national average salary for new permanent online job opportunities of 34,215.

Yet salary growth remains patchy outside the Capital. Regions like East Midlands, North East England, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside experienced a two per cent drop in salaries for new opportunities, while in Wales the fall was as great as eight per cent.

Job-seeker numbers have risen at a much faster rate than the rise in new jobs, increasing competition for each job to record levels as a result. On average every new job opportunity received 19 applications in February, up one from January and 50 per cent above the average of 13 applications per job experienced last September.

Martin Warnes, Managing Director of reed.co.uk, comments on the Reed Job Index for February:

Employer demand is slowly but steadily returning to the jobs marketplace, as the number of new job opportunities on offer continue to rise. Salaries for new positions have started to increase for the first time since the recession began, especially in London.

Most striking, however, is just how many more people are actively job-seeking now than at any time over the last couple of years. Pent up demand from people who felt trapped in their jobs throughout the recession seems to have been released with the first signs of returning confidence. Employed applicants have flooded back into the job marketplace since the beginning of the year, and are now actively competing with unemployed people, new entrants, graduates and returners.

This is an excellent time for employers to attract new talent to help them make the most of the first signs of economic growth. However organisations should remember they need to retain their existing staff. Many people who have seen their employers through the downturn now have itchy feel, and have started to actively seek out their next career move.

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