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Businesses pessimistic about 2018 economy, reveals REC

Not one of the 200 employers polled by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) for this month’s JobsOutlook survey thinks economic conditions in the UK will be less challenging in 2018 than in 2017. More than half (51%) think economic conditions in 2018 will be more challenging than this year, while the rest (49%) think they will remain the same.

In addition, the latest JobsOutlook survey shows that employer confidence in current economic conditions remains negative for the fifth month running. A third (33%) think economic conditions in the country are worsening, while a quarter (25%) think they are improving. This leaves the net balance (-9) at the joint lowest recorded level since the Brexit vote last year, equalling the score recorded in October 2017.

The JobsOutlook survey of 600 employers also finds:

  • Employer confidence in hiring and investment decisions is still positive but is now falling, with a net balance of +11 (down three points since last month).
  • However, employers are feeling uncertain about their hiring strategies. A quarter (26%) of employers said they don’t know if their organisation will increase or decrease their number of agency workers in the next three months, a significantly larger proportion than the 6% that said this last month.
  • The net balance of employers planning to increase permanent staff in the short term is falling (now +13, down two points on last month) but is higher than the net balance of employers planning to increase temporary agency worker headcount (+3).

REC chief executive, Kevin Green, said, “Despite the economic malaise, the number of businesses planning to employ new people still outnumbers those planning reductions. This is good news against a deteriorating backdrop.

“However, confidence in the UK’s economic conditions being negative for a fifth consecutive month paints a rather bleak picture. With 2017 coming to an end, it is worrying that so many businesses think mainly of challenges when it comes to next year’s economy.

“The government needs to take action quickly to reassure employers that their EU workers can remain in the UK while also setting out a sensible post-Brexit immigration policy. This could help turn the mood around, so we can ensure 2018 continues the successes we’ve seen this year in terms of high employment rates and continued job creation.”

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