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JobStats - February 2003 - another false dawn or the bottom of the market?: 22 Feb 2003

22 Feb 2003

Market trends

The decline in the job market appears to have stopped. January showed the usual post Christmas bounce but February has seen the same level of demand maintained. It's a bit early to call this the bottom of the market and there have been false dawns before but last year the rate of decline had slowed and the past two months have shown modest growth. There are still plenty of reasons for pessimists to worry: a looming war; a weakening general economy and a house price bubble. But there is always something to worry about and maybe the war will be short and successful, maybe house prices will deflate gradually without burning too many people.

The growth in contract adverts has continued. We've seen solid growth over the past six months and we are now back to the same level of contract job adverts that we saw last May. The growth in demand for contractors has been matched by a gentle rise in rates over the past three months. It's not exactly like the market is going crazy you understand; what we are seeing is a slight pickup at the bottom and middle of the market. The top end is holding level, not rising though and we've seen ripples like this before over the past year.

At the same time the number of permanent job adverts has been holding up too. The rates here are still falling but slowly and not nearly as dramatically as contracts rates have fallen. They never rose as far either though.

It is important to remember that the figures on JobStats are a lot more volatile in a small market than they are in a big market simply because as the market shrinks I have less data to work with and so the averages that I come up with are based on a smaller sample. This means that it takes longer to decide whether the market (or an individual skill or location) is rising or falling. You probably need to look back six months to detect a real trend and looking back that far the market as a whole is down but the demand for contractors is up. Looking at rates with that perspective both hourly and annual rates are down but only slightly.

That's all folks

That's it for another month. The revamped site is still in development (sigh).


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