LONDON (Reuters) - The number of Britons placed in permanent jobs rose for the fourth consecutive month in January, a survey showed on Friday, a possible sign the economy is returning to modest growth.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said its seasonally adjusted index of permanent staff placements held at 53.2 in January. Readings above 50 indicate growth compared to a month earlier.
The number of vacancies rose at the fastest pace since April 2011, with stronger demand for staff also contributing to the fastest growth in starting salaries since September that year.
"Amid the doom and gloom caused by predictions of slow growth, the hiring figures for January should give employers and employees plenty of reasons to be cheerful," said Bernard Brown, head of business services at consultants KPMG, who sponsor the survey.
According to government figures, the number of people out of work stood at 2.49 million in November 2012, a fall to 7.7 per cent from 7.8 per cent in the previous quarter. The total of people in Britain in work in November had increased to 29.7 million.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research forecast on Tuesday the British economy would grow by just 0.7 per cent this year - enough to avoid a triple dip recession but a signal of a long haul back to prosperity.
(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Angus MacSwan)