LONDON (Reuters) - British permanent job placements increased in April at the weakest pace this year, adding to mixed signals from the labour market ahead of this week’s Bank of England interest rate decision, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) also said growth in starting salaries for permanent staff edged up last month after falling to a ten-month low in March, although it was still the second-weakest reading since June 2017.
Still, pay rates for temporary staff picked up at the fastest rate in two years.
Britain’s economy grew by just 0.1 percent in the first three months of 2018, its weakest performance in five years, due in part to heavy snow in late February and early March.
But since then business surveys have recovered less than expected and BoE Governor Mark Carney has suggested the central bank could wait before raising rates, causing a sharp shift in financial markets away from bets on a rate hike this Thursday.
The latest REC survey showed weakness centred especially around the retail sector. Earlier on Wednesday, figures from the British Retail Consortium and payments company Barclaycard pointed to a subdued consumer economy.
“Following the recent headlines about high street closures, it’s unsurprising to see demand for retail staff falling this month,” REC director of policy Tom Hadley said.
Already this year Toys R Us UK, electricals group Maplin and drinks wholesaler Conviviality have filed for protection from creditors, while fashion retailer New Look is also closing stores.
Official data last month showed British workers’ pay is still rising by less than inflation despite the lowest unemployment rate since 1975, but wage growth turned out weaker than expected in the three months to February.
Reporting by Ana De Liz, editing by Andy Bruce