Top job orders beat gloom

THE economy may be slowing down, but reports from the executive job market suggest that the slowdown will stop just short of recession. August figures compiled by the Association of Executive Search Consultants show a 28 per cent year-on-year rise in executive searches in Britain.

"This is not a leading indicator of change, but I do feel a strong economy underlies the figures," said Peter Felix, the AESC's president. "Services in particular - where people are the only real capital - remain strong."

"We've just done our figures and they show orders for job searches up 71 per cent on the year," said Paul Buchanan-Barrow of Korn-Ferry Search & Selection. "I was so amazed I had our finance people recheck the figures."

Buchanan-Barrow said demand for executives remains strong across the board, but demand for computer, financial services, and pharmaceutical executives is particularly strong.

"1998 has been notably active, thanks to a lot of factors - mergers, and European Monetary Union," said Richard Fraser, associate director of Sammons Associates, which recruits mainly for banks and brokers.

But Fraser admitted that some companies are becoming cautious. "We expect the UK to go slower toward the end of the year," he said.