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UK hiring at fastest rate in 5 months in August

British companies hired permanent staff at the fastest pace in five months in August, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, as demand for staff rose across both permanent and temporary job categories.

Average starting salaries for permanent employees edged up in August at the second-fastest rate in more than three years, and short-term pay rates also showed strong growth despite the inflation rate softening from the prior month.

The monthly survey, produced with data firm IHS Markit, noted a further drop in labor supply, with permanent worker availability falling sharply and temporary labor supply dropping at a softer rate compared to July.

While demand across both public and private sectors edged up in the month, according to the survey, the private sector recorded the fastest rise in job vacancies.

IT and computing led the rankings for permanent job vacancies among the 10 job categories monitored by the survey. Retail was reported to be the only sector where permanent vacancies stagnated, while all other sectors recorded a rise in demand.

However, Neil Carberry, CEO of the recruiters' body, questioned how long the hiring spree would continue in the face of uncertainty about Brexit. "Companies are starting to implement contingency plans now — and those who aren't will need to step up progress," Carberry said.

"The biggest long-term question on jobs is how they will be affected by new technology and stiff price competition driven by value-conscious consumers," Carberry said. "For recruiters, helping people find pathways from sectors like retail into growing sectors will both boost opportunity and address candidate shortages in key sectors."

The U.K. and the EU are yet to strike a deal on Britain's departure from the bloc.