UK firms turn more positive about jobs and investment - survey

FILE PHOTO: Job adverts are seen in the window of a job centre following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manchester, Britain, July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - British employers have turned positive about hiring and investment for the first time since February as the coronavirus lockdown eases, but companies and consumers remain worried about the outlook for the economy, surveys showed on Friday.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s measure of employers’ confidence in hiring and investing rose to a net level of +4 in the first half of July, up from -9 in June.

“Even at times like these, there are always opportunities out there for jobseekers,” REC chief executive Neil Carberry said.

“But businesses are still very worried about the overall outlook for the economy, and while some are hiring, many are having to make tough decisions around laying people off.”

One in six employers had made redundancies in the year to July, up from 9% in the year to June, REC said.

Britain’s economy grew only marginally in May after shrinking by about a quarter in March and April, according to official data, and the government has taken a series of emergency measures to limit a surge in job losses.

A separate survey by market research firm GfK showed consumer confidence held at its highest level since the lockdown at -27, though this is still well below its average level in recent years.

A measure of people’s outlook for the economy slipped to -61 but a gauge of their personal financial outlook improved to zero, probably reflecting increased saving by many households, GfK said.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken