UK's labour market slump eases in July, but outlook grim: REC

LONDON, Aug 6 (Reuters) – The downturn in Britain’s labour market eased further in July as more of the economy reopened following the coronavirus lockdown, but the outlook remains bleak as employers expect a wave of redundancies to follow, a survey showed on Thursday.

The figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and accountants KPMG underscore the challenge facing authorities as they grapple with an uneven economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

The Bank of England will release its latest quarterly economic outlook at 0600 GMT, having previously warned of a sharp rise in unemployment later this year to rates higher than those in the 2008-09 financial crisis.

REC said demand for staff continued to fall and at 43.4 in July – up from 34.3 a month before – the survey’s index of demand for staff remained well below the 50 level that represents an increase in hiring.

The survey, based on the responses of up to 400 recruiters, is one of the gauges of the labour market watched by BoE officials.

“With the softest rates of decline seen for five months, it’s encouraging to see the downturn in recruitment easing as parts of the economy reopen,” said James Stewart, vice chair at KPMG.

“However, we are still a long way from being out of the woods.”

Stewart said unemployment was likely to rise after the furlough scheme, which has supported 9.6 million jobs during lockdown, expires at the end of October.

The supply of available workers soared in July by the largest amount since the depths of the financial crisis in December 2008, according to the survey. (Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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