January 9, 2015 / 12:03 AM / 5 years ago

UK firms step up hiring of permanent staff in December - REC

City workers head to work during the morning rush hour in Southwark in central London April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British firms hired permanent staff through recruitment companies at a faster rate in December although growth in starting salaries eased slightly, an industry survey showed on Friday.

Overall, Britain’s labour market was in good shape heading into 2015, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG’s monthly report on jobs.

For temporary staff, it showed hiring and starting salaries rising last month at a faster rate than in November.

But the survey also suggested that the pace of hiring could slow as the number of job vacancies for permanent roles rose at the slowest pace since July 2013.

“Economic growth for 2015 looks sustainable, however the concern now is that political uncertainty could spook the market as we approach a general election,” said REC chief executive Kevin Green, echoing a similar warning from the British Chambers of Commerce on Thursday.

The Bank of England is watching the labour market closely as it weighs up when to raise interest rates from their record low 0.5 percent, and so are political leaders ahead of a national election on May 7.

Wage increases recently overtook the rate of inflation, but a turnaround in living standards may prove to be too little, too late for Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by William Schomberg

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