KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs - June 2023

Hiring slowdown persists in May, driving steeper increase in candidate supply

Hiring slowdown persists in May, driving steeper increase in candidate supply

Key findings

Permanent placements fall further, temp billings growth eases

Strongest rise in candidate numbers since end of 2020

Starting salary inflation slips to 25-month low

Data collected May 11-24


Hiring activity across the UK remained subdued in May, according to the latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs survey, compiled by S&P Global. Recruitment consultants indicated that caution around the outlook and delayed decision-making led to a further marked fall in permanent staff appointments, while temp billings rose only slightly. At the same time, vacancies expanded at the second-softest rate since early 2021.

The higher cost of living and shortages of skilled candidates meanwhile drove sustained increases in starting pay for both permanent and temporary staff. However, rates of pay growth softened since April amid a further improvement in overall candidate numbers. Aggregate staff supply expanded at the quickest rate since December 2020, which was often attributed to redundancies.

The report is compiled by S&P Global from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.

Economic uncertainty continues to dampen hiring activity

Lingering uncertainty around the economic outlook and delayed decision-making continued to weigh on staff placements midway through the second quarter. Permanent staff appointments fell for the eighth month in a row.

Connect with us

Save, Curate and Share

Save what resonates, curate a library of information, and share content with your network of contacts.

Permanent Placements Index

Temporary Billings

50.0 = no-change


and at the quickest rate since January 2021. Temp billings meanwhile expanded at the softest pace since last October and only slightly.

Total candidate supply expands at steepest pace since December 2020

The overall availability of labour improved for the third month running in May. Furthermore, the rate of expansion was the sharpest seen for nearly two-and-a-half years, with recruiters often linking the upturn to redundancies and a slowdown in hiring activity. Permanent candidate availability increased at a sharper rate than that seen for temporary staff. The former rose at the quickest rate for 29 months, while the latter recorded the strongest upturn since February 2021.

Rates of starting pay rise at softer, but still strong rates

The higher cost of living and efforts to attract skilled staff continued to place upward pressure on starting pay during May. Salaries for newly-placed permanent staff rose at a historically sharp pace overall, albeit one that was the softest seen for just over two years. Temp pay growth also edged down since April, and was the second-slowest since April 2021.


Vacancies increase at slowest rate in 2023 to date

Growth of demand for staff slowed for the third straight month in May, with overall vacancies expanding at the softest pace since last December. Furthermore, the upturn was the second-weakest recorded since February 2021. Permanent vacancies increased at a faster pace than that seen for temporary roles, but rates of growth were nevertheless the slowest seen for five and 33 months respectively.

Regional and Sector Variations

The drop in permanent placements was broad-based among the four monitored English regions, and led by London.

Temp billings rose sharply in London and the South of England, but declined in the North of England and the Midlands.

Growth of demand for staff was sustained across both the private and public sectors during May. However, rates of expansion moderated across the board compared to April. The strongest rise in vacancies was signalled for temporary positions in the public sector, closely followed by permanent roles in the private sector. The softest upturn in demand was seen for temporary staff in the private sector, which expanded only marginally.

Seven of the ten monitored job sectors recorded increases in demand for permanent staff during May. Hotel & Catering led the upturn, followed by Accounting/Financial. Retail saw a notable decline, while slight falls were registered for IT & Computing and Construction.

Temporary vacancies expanded in just over half of the ten broad employment sectors midway through the second quarter. Hotel & Catering and Engineering recorded the strongest rises in temp staff demand. Retail once again was placed at the bottom of the rankings.


Commenting on the latest survey results, Claire Warnes, Partner, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK, said: 

“The jobs market remains subdued, with the latest survey results showing dampened hiring activity amid ongoing economic concerns. Overall vacancy growth slowed for the third month as businesses delayed hiring decisions, and permanent staff appointments fell for the eighth month in a row as many employers stick to temps.

“Businesses ready to grow can feel optimistic about an increasing pool of available candidates, which has expanded at the sharpest rate in two-and-a-half years. For job seekers there was more demand for permanent workers in the healthcare, financial and accounting sectors. And while temporary vacancy growth slowed, there are still plenty of opportunities, especially in the hotel and catering industries.

“It’s a tough time for employers, and what they really need is an upskilled and reskilled workforce which can move between sectors and quickly fill their vacancies. This will in turn aid economic recovery. The Government’s new Local Skills Improvement Fund scratches the surface of the problem, but more needs to be done to urgently address the UK’s widening skills gap.”

Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive, said:

“We’ve been hearing more and more about differences between sectors in hiring rates over the past few months, and today’s data really highlights this. While hospitality, healthcare and engineering remain strong, construction, IT and retail are all weakening. Despite the overall temporary work market continuing to grow – and permanent hiring declining from the sugar rush of 2022 – the story can vary widely across different businesses as their economic outlook remains unclear.

“For hiring businesses, greater candidate availability will help resolves shortages, though inflation means wage growth remains high. In addition, candidates may have to change sectors in their job search, so there is not an automatic increase in candidate supply for shortage roles. All of this puts a premium on getting our response right as businesses – looking at skills development and widening the net of places that firms look for candidates. Recruiters can help with this.

“Government can play its part, too. Proper reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to deliver more flexible and effective training options could help speed sector-to-sector transfers, as could greater use of temporary working to help candidates get a start. Regulation also needs to treat temporary work as a positive option – not a second choice.”



Tanya Holden

Deputy Head of Media Relations

+44 (0) 7874 888656


Hamant Verma

Communications Manager

T: +44 (0)20 7009 2129

S&P Global

Annabel Fiddes

Economics Associate Director

S&P Global Market Intelligence

T: +44 (0)1491 461 010

Sabrina Mayeen

Corporate Communications

S&P Global Market Intelligence

T: +44 (0) 7967 447030


The KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs is compiled by S&P Global from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies. 

Survey responses are collected in the second half of each month and indicate the direction of change compared to the previous month. A diffusion index is calculated for each survey variable. The index is the sum of the percentage of ‘higher’ responses and half the percentage of ‘unchanged’ responses. The indices vary between 0 and 100, with a reading above 50 indicating an overall increase compared to the previous month, and below 50 an overall decrease. The indices are then seasonally adjusted.

Underlying survey data are not revised after publication, but seasonal adjustment factors may be revised from time to time as appropriate which will affect the seasonally adjusted data series.

For further information on the survey methodology, please contact

Full reports and historical data from the KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs are available by subscription. Please contact

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 15,300 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.43 billion in the year ended 30 September 2021. 

KPMG is a global organization of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Legal, Tax and Advisory services. It operates in 145 countries and territories with more than 236,000 partners and employees working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.

About REC

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. Find out more about the Recruitment & Employment Confederation at

About S&P Global

S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) S&P Global provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses and individuals with the right data, expertise and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges and accelerate progress for the world.

We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow, today.


The intellectual property rights to the data provided herein are owned by or licensed to S&P Global and/or its affiliates. Any unauthorised use, including but not limited to copying, distributing, transmitting or otherwise of any data appearing is not permitted without S&P Global’s prior consent. S&P Global shall not have any liability, duty or obligation for or relating to the content or information (“data”) contained herein, any errors, inaccuracies, omissions or delays in the data, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. In no event shall S&P Global be liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages, arising out of the use of the data.

This Content was published by S&P Global Market Intelligence and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global. Reproduction of any information, data or material, including ratings (“Content”) in any form is prohibited except with the prior written permission of the relevant party. Such party, its affiliates and suppliers (“Content Providers”) do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, timeliness or availability of any Content and are not responsible for any errors or omissions (negligent or otherwise), regardless of the cause, or for the results obtained from the use of such Content.  In no event shall Content Providers be liable for any damages, costs, expenses, legal fees, or losses (including lost income or lost profit and opportunity costs) in connection with any use of the Content.