(Alliance News) - UK employers' ability to make hiring and investment decisions is now improving for the first time since February, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation said on Friday, as lockdown eases.
However, REC warned that business confidence in the wider economy remains weak.
The latest JobsOutlook survey found that employers' confidence in making hiring and investment decisions rose to a net level of positive 4 in the first half of July, up from negative 9 in June, and indicates that on balance, employers think the outlook has improved from the previous month.
Businesses' hiring intentions have also improved between June and July. Forecast demand for permanent staff in the short term now sits at positive 14, up from positive 6 in early June.
Medium-term demand - the next four to twelve months - remained at positive 15.
By contrast, employers remain gloomy about the wider economy with confidence levels at negative 40.
REC said it is seeing evidence of companies restructuring in reaction to the impact of the pandemic. One in six - or 17% - of employers had made redundancies in the year to July, up from 9% in the year to June.
"It's good to see employer confidence rising as the lockdown measures ease â€“ at this stage we would expect things to be getting better month-by-month. Even at times like these, there are always opportunities out there for jobseekers," said REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry.
"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," continued Carberry. "It's too early to tell how quickly the economy will recover, but there are steps the government can take to keep firms hiring and boost growth â€“ including a more flexible skills system and a reduction in the government's payroll tax, National Insurance, to reduce the cost of hiring."
By Evelina Grecenko; firstname.lastname@example.org
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