December 11, 2012 / 12:04 AM / 5 years ago

UK firms' hiring plans strongest since third-quarter 2008 - survey

LONDON (Reuters) - British companies are planning to hire extra workers between January and March at the fastest pace in more than four years, a survey by staffing firm ManpowerGroup showed on Tuesday.

The Manpower seasonally adjusted net employment outlook for the first quarter of 2013 rose to 6 percent from 3 percent for the current quarter.

That suggests the strongest hiring intentions since plans for the penultimate quarter of 2008. However, Britain was in the middle of its deepest recession in over 50 years at the time, which tempers the survey’s optimism.

“We should not get carried away, today’s jobs market lacks the dynamism we saw before 2008, with the vast majority of UK firms continuing to sit on their hands,” said Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK.

“The good news this time round is being driven by a relatively small number of businesses looking to expand.”

In the past 12 months, firms have continued to create jobs despite a broadly stagnant economy, puzzling economists and policymakers. Unemployment has inched down and the employment level hit an all-time high between June and August.

Firms hired permanent staff at the fastest rate since April 2011 last month and the number of unfilled posts rose strongly, according to a poll by Britain’s Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG out on Monday.

Official figures on Wednesday are expected to show that the number of Britons claiming unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 in November, while the jobless rate on the wider ILO measure stayed at 7.8 percent between August and October.

ManpowerGroup said business services firms were particularly upbeat, while the retail, wholesale, restaurants and hotels sector reported the strongest hiring plans since mid-2008, pointing to a nascent pick-up in consumer confidence.

Construction firms, on the other hand, planned to reduce their workforce in coming months.

Reporting by Charlie Pollard. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.

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