Demand for temporary staff has returned to pre-recession levels, but demand for permanent staff this year was only half its 1990 level, according to the country's biggest employment agency.
The traditional seasonal pattern in demand for temporaries - which used to rise sharply in July to September - has nearly vanished. This indicates that employers are using temporaries as an essential part of their workforce, rather than holiday cover.
Reed said it had become particularly easy and cost-effective to take on temporary staff as a result of changes in employment law during the past decade.
The agency's figures, drawn from its 200 branches nationwide, confirm Employment Department research published last week.
The department reported the number of people in the 'flexible' workforce - including part-time, temporary and self-employed workers - had risen by 1.25 million between 1986 and 1993. Half of the women and 27 per cent of the men in employment fall into those categories.
Securicor Recruitment, another big agency, said revenues from temporary staff placements had risen by 44 per cent in the eight months to the end of May. Temps accounted for 80 per cent of the company's turnover during the period. Income from placements for permanent staff improved 68 per cent but was still depressed.
A spokesman suggested the reasons for slow growth in permanent positions were shortages of skilled workers seeking jobs, the attractions of drawing national insurance benefits, and manufacturers' uncertainty about the recovery.
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