January 9, 2019 / 1:04 AM / 5 months ago

UK employers hire staff at slowest pace since April 2017 - REC

FILE PHOTO: Workers cross London Bridge during the morning rush hour in London, August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British employers hired permanent staff in December at the slowest rate since April 2017, adding to a signs the economy has cooled ahead of Brexit, a survey of recruitment consultants showed on Wednesday.

The report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and accountants KPMG report also showed growth in starting salaries for permanent staff slowed for a third month running, although it remained high by historical standards.

“It’s no surprise that growth in new permanent jobs dropped to its lowest level in almost two years last month, because economic uncertainty is now affecting companies’ hiring plans,” REC chief executive Neil Carberry said.

The terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union, scheduled for March 29, remain unclear as legislators are expected next week to vote down the divorce deal that May struck with the EU in November.

Business chiefs and investors fear leaving the EU without a deal would slow trade, spook financial markets and dislocate supply chains for the world’s fifth-largest economy.

REC said a shortage of candidates had hampered growth in permanent job placements last month, with some employers saying Brexit uncertainty was making people reluctant to change jobs and discouraging workers from moving to Britain from elsewhere in Europe.

Almost all the growth in permanent staff placements took place in southern England, especially outside London, with little increase in central or northern areas, REC said.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken

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