Unprecedented Low

Confidence drops in economy, but hit to hiring plans more short-term

New data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) collected between 1 April and 9 April shows that business confidence in the economy has plummeted to record lows since the coronavirus crisis hit the UK.

The latest JobsOutlook report shows that employer confidence in the UK economy has dropped to a net figure of -62. This is 39 percentage points lower than in March, and the lowest confidence figure recorded since the JobsOutlook survey began in 2016.

Employer demand for permanent staff has also fallen to a record low. Forecast demand for permanent staff in the next three months fell by 26 percentage points to a net figure of -9. This measure has never dropped to a negative before. Demand for temporary workers is down by less, at net: -4.

Despite these measures being at record lows in early April, when employers think longer-term, it’s clear that a recovery is on the cards as the lockdown eases. Businesses said that in the next 4-12 months they would be looking to hire permanent staff, with medium-term demand sitting in positive territory at net: +8.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“We all know that the jobs market has taken a hit, and this data supports the story I am hearing from businesses all over the country. The short-term picture is weak, and that has fed through to hiring – especially for permanent staff. But recovery is possible – it’s clear that companies will be looking to hire as soon as the economy opens up again.

“Making sure government support is effective will help businesses bridge the gap. Right now, speed and clarity matter most on the Business Interruption Loan Scheme and on how furlough works – more support on Statutory Sick Pay is also urgent. This support from government now will position recruiters to help Britain recover from COVID-19.”

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