UK starting pay jumps by most on record as staff shortages bite – survey

Workers travel through London Bridge rail and underground station during the morning rush hour in London, Britain, September 8, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files

LONDON (Reuters) – British employers increased pay for new staff by the most since at least the 1990s, according to a survey that will be studied by the Bank of England as it tries to assess how persistent the recent jump in inflation might be.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said firms were still seeking to hire in September but staff availability fell sharply again, pushing up starting salaries for permanent and temporary workers by the most in the survey’s 24-year history.

REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said competition for staff was widespread, from food processing and logistics – including the acute shortage of truck drivers which led to Britain’s recent fuel supply crisis – to office-based jobs.

“We have all seen how labour shortages have affected our everyday lives over the past few weeks, whether that’s an empty petrol station or fewer goods on supermarket shelves,” he said.

Carberry urged the government to do more to encourage business investment, relax post-Brexit immigration rules, avoid barriers to international trade and improve skills training.

The BoE has said there is a growing case for its first interest rate increase since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year with inflation expected to top 4%. It is watching measures of pay growth carefully as it gauges whether the rise in inflation prove to be transitory as it has predicted.

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