The number of people hired in permanent jobs rose at the highest rate in 19 months in May, new research has shown.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation's (REC) monthly index of permanent positions filled by employment agencies rose from 55.2 in April to 57.4 last month, the sharpest increase since October 2004.
The rate at which companies took on temporary workers also reached a 19-month high. The temporary staff placements index, which like the permanent index is compiled with accountancy firm KPMG, rose from 54.7 to 58.4 in May.
The figures appear to contradict official statistics which found that the claimant-count measure of unemployment hit a three-year high in April.
However, the REC study found that the number of people available for work fell in May, driving up wage inflation to its highest level since April 2005 for permanent staff. Pay rates for temporary staff also increased to a six-month high.
"The fact that growth in both the permanent and temporary sector has accelerated to a nineteen month high confirms that the UK labour market is in good health," REC managing director Gareth Osborne commented on the results.
"On the negative side, skills shortages continue to be a main concern and will continue to drive pay inflation," he added.