Firms are planning to step up hiring in the months to come, a survey from staffing firm Manpower showed on Tuesday, raising the likelihood that unemployment will fall further despite the lack of economic growth.
Jobless numbers have been falling and employment has been rising for most of this year, defying figures that show the economy has officially been back in recession since late 2011 and puzzling economists and Bank of England policymakers alike.
Manpower said its seasonally adjusted net employment outlook for the final quarter of 2012 rose to 3 percent. That is an increase from 2 percent in the current quarter and would be the highest level since the third quarter of 2011, according to Manpower data.
For the first time in four years, companies of all sizes were hiring, despite the depressing economic environment, Manpower said.
"These figures demonstrate that the uptick in the jobs market is no flash in the pan," said James Hick, UK Managing Director of ManpowerGroup Solutions.
On Monday, a survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and consultants KPMG showed that the decline in permanent job placements eased in August and firms' hiring of temporary staff picked up for the first time in nine months.
Official figures on Wednesday are expected to show an unchanged number of people claiming unemployment benefits in August and an unchanged unemployment rate of 8.0 percent, by the wider ILO measure, for the three months to July.
Manpower said that finance and business service providers signalled the strongest hiring intentions for the final quarter. Manufacturers also planned to step up hiring.
However, construction firms expect to shed further jobs, though at a slightly slower rate than before, the survey showed.
The construction sector was the main drag on the economy in the first half of this year, and the government has announced a number of initiatives to support infrastructure and homebuilding without directly spending taxpayers money.
(Reporting by Sven Egenter; Editing by Susan Fenton)