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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Confidence in economy hits unprecedented lows, but hit to hiring plans more short-term

Press releases

New data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) collected between 1 April and 9 April shows that business confidence in the economy has plummeted to record lows since the coronavirus crisis hit the UK.

The latest JobsOutlook report shows that employer confidence in the UK economy has dropped to a net figure of -62. This is 39 percentage points lower than in March, and the lowest confidence figure recorded since the JobsOutlook survey began in 2016.

Employer demand for permanent staff has also fallen to a record low. Forecast demand for permanent staff in the next three months fell by 26 percentage points to a net figure of -9. This measure has never dropped to a negative before. Demand for temporary workers is down by less, at net: -4.

Despite these measures being at record lows in early April, when employers think longer-term, it’s clear that a recovery is on the cards as the lockdown eases. Businesses said that in the next 4-12 months they would be looking to hire permanent staff, with medium-term demand sitting in positive territory at net: +8.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“We all know that the jobs market has taken a hit, and this data supports the story I am hearing from businesses all over the country. The short-term picture is weak, and that has fed through to hiring – especially for permanent staff. But recovery is possible – it’s clear that companies will be looking to hire as soon as the economy opens up again.

“Making sure government support is effective will help businesses bridge the gap. Right now, speed and clarity matter most on the Business Interruption Loan Scheme and on how furlough works – more support on Statutory Sick Pay is also urgent. This support from government now will position recruiters to help Britain recover from COVID-19.”



Notes to editors:

JobsOutlook is produced by the REC in partnership with Savanta ComRes. Savanta ComRes interviewed 200 UK employers involved in hiring by telephone between 1 April and 9 April 2020. Data were weighted to be representative of UK adults in employment by region, broad industry sector and public/private split. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available at

For more information, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, 020 7009 2192 or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.


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The REC is the voice of the recruitment industry, speaking up for great recruiters. We drive standards and empower recruitment businesses to build better futures for their candidates and themselves. We are champions of an industry which is fundamental to the strength of the UK economy.

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