Temporary job placements rose at the fastest pace in 14 months in September as demand for new staff picked up, a survey showed on Monday, providing fresh signs of resilience in the British labour market.
A rise in employment over the past year has been one of the few bright spots in an economy that fell back into recession at the end of last year.
The index for temporary and contract staff billings rose to 52.6, pointing to the sharpest rate of expansion since July 2011, the survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and consultancy KPMG showed.
Values above 50 show an increase in the number of billings compared to a month earlier, values below point to a fall.
The index measuring permanent job appointments hit its highest level since May at 49.7, indicating only a minimal monthly dip in permanent hiring, the REC said. Job vacancies rose at the fastest pace since August 2011.
"It must be hugely encouraging for job seekers to see figures suggesting that demand for staff is on the increase," said Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG.
"Add to this news that permanent roles are stabilising and temporary positions have seen another month of growth and it would be easy to assume that the corner is being turned," he added.
Most economists reckon the British economy returned to growth last quarter. But some surveys have pointed to renewed weakness ahead, stoking fears that unemployment would soon rise again.
"We know that confidence is fragile," said Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive. "A big external shock could derail us from this promising course."
(Reporting By Peter Schwartzstein)