LONDON (Reuters) - Vacancies at British firms rose at the strongest pace in more than 16 years last month but the number of appointments slowed, suggesting firms are struggling to hire the right people or are less confident about the outlook, a survey showed on Friday.
The monthly figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) trade body also showed that growth in salaries for people starting new permanent jobs eased a touch for a second month while remaining close to a record high.
“Just when it seemed the UK’s economy had definitely turned a corner, a couple of warning shots have been fired,” said Bernard Brown, head of business services at KPMG which produces the survey with REC.
Brown said the slowing of permanent and temporary placements might be due to the holiday season.
But taken with signs of slowing growth in the manufacturing sector, which was seen in another survey this week, the easing in hiring could also suggest that confidence amongst companies has hit its peak, he said.
Unemployment in Britain has fallen sharply since mid-2013, wrong-footing the Bank of England and investors. But the broadest reading of earnings in the country has failed, so far at least, to match the strong growth seen in the REC’s measure of growth in starting salaries.
The Bank of England has said it is watching particularly closely for signs that pay growth might be about to speed up as it considers when it should raise interest rates.
Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Hugh Lawson