UK workers
Growth in the UK jobs market cooled down in May.Reuters

Permanent job placements in the UK rose at the slowest rate in eight months in May, as uncertainty surrounding the upcoming EU referendum weighed on the jobs market, data released on Wednesday (8 June) showed.

According to the monthly jobs report, compiled by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Markit, the number of permanent staff placements continued to rise last month, although the rate of growth eased to the lowest level since October 2015.

Temporary and contract staff billings growth also eased, declining from April's 13-month, even though vacancies increased quickly last month – with the rate of growth quickening since April.

Stronger increases were recorded for both permanent and short-term employees, the report added, while the number of available staff continued to decline – albeit at the slowest pace in over two-and-a-half years.

"UK businesses are now facing candidate shortages in nearly every sector of the economy," said REC chief executive Kevin Green.

"Employers are showing uncertainty about hiring in the run up to the EU referendum. Whatever happens post 23 June we need to ensure a sensible approach to immigration is taken, so that employers have access to the people they need. Sourcing workers from outside the UK is going to be an ongoing necessity if we are to continue seeing the British economy grow."

Meanwhile, permanent staff salary growth fell to a 31-month low in May, although it remained above the survey's historical average. Pay for staff in temporary and contract jobs increased sharply last month – albeit at a slower pace than in April – when records showed the strongest rate in almost nine years.

On a regional basis, the report showed recruiters based in the south of England recorded the strongest rise in permanent placements during May, with London being the only notable exception. Temporary placements, meanwhile, increased across all the English regions, with the strongest growth indicated in the north.