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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

JobsOutlook: More employers look to hire permanent staff despite economic worries

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Employers’ confidence in the UK economy took a turn for the worse during the first quarter of 2022 as inflation reached its highest for 30 years. That’s according to new data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

In January-March 2022, employers reported worsening expectations for the UK economy. The REC’s measure of business confidence in the economy improved slightly in the New Year but then fell back to net: -11 in January-March, the same level as in October-December 2021.

Despite this, more employers remained positive than negative about their ability to hire. The REC’s JobsOutlook survey found that UK businesses’ confidence in hiring was at net: +8 in January-March 2022. This was one percentage point lower than in the last quarter of 2021.  

In particular, employers’ intentions to hire permanent workers have spiked over the past three months, diverging from the economic outlook, perhaps reflecting challenges in filling vacancies. Hiring intentions for permanent staff in the short term increased by nine percentage points to net: +28, quarter-on-quarter. Medium-term hiring intentions also rose by seven points to net: +26.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“Businesses are seeing tax rates and uncapped energy costs rise, as well as pressure on salaries from staff who are seeing their own bills go up. So it is no surprise that firms are more concerned about the outlook. But British firms are resilient and investment in staff and growth remain on the agenda when employers think about their own business. We expect to see employers’ hiring plans decouple further from their economic outlook over the coming months as they face a tight labour market. Firms will need to find new, creative ways to attract candidates, as well as keep hold of the talented staff they have. Recruiters will play a vital part in helping them to do so.

“More employers are switching their hiring intentions towards permanent staff, as the urgent need for contingency staff to cover Covid absences decreases. But temporary workers remain vital to managing uncertain and fast-changing markets.”

Other stats from the latest JobsOutlook include:

  • Quarter-on quarter, hiring intentions for temporary agency workers declined by 14 percentage points in the short term and by eight points in the medium term. However, both measures remained robustly positive at net: +16 and net: +15, respectively.
  • In March, almost one in five employers (18%) said that the increase in National Insurance contributions will reduce their ability to invest in their business, while one in six (15%) said this will discourage the creation of new roles.


Notes to editors:

JobsOutlook is produced by the REC in partnership with Savanta ComRes. Savanta ComRes interviewed 602 UK employers involved in hiring by telephone between 5 January and 4 April 2022. 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 and interview enquiries, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, 020 7009 2129 or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.

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 great candidates and themselves. We are champions of an industry which is fundamental to the strength of the UK economy.

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