Employment prospects in the North East have hit a seven-year high, according to global recruitment group Manpower.
The company’s Employment Outlook Survey, based on responses from 2,103 UK businesses, suggests the region’s employers are the most optimistic going into 2015.
The study, which asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce during the coming quarter, is considered the most comprehensive of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government.
This time round, the North East achieved a jobs Outlook score of +16% - more than double the national average.
Manpower operations manager Amanda White said: “The North East had a tough time through the downturn, but after weathering the storm, candidates are beginning to reap the rewards.
“The growth in customer service roles is a significant driver of optimism in the North East.
“We’ve been recruiting for thousands of people across several contact centres – a huge source of employment in the region – and demand continues to outstrip the supply of candidates.”
She added that there was now a strong demand in engineering, particularly when it came to senior roles around Newcastle, spanning the manufacturing, oil and gas and petrochemical industries.
“This need for applicants means that we’re starting to see a candidates’ market emerge across certain key areas, such as manufacturing and customer contact centres, where increasingly people won’t consider new roles unless there is a significant pay rise on offer,” she said.
The findings are largely supported by the most recent Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking North East PMI survey, which showed private sector firms in the region enjoyed growth momentum in November, with business activity and new orders both increasing at the fastest rates since August.
The stronger expansion of new business contributed to an increased level of outstanding work during the month and led companies to raise their staffing levels for the first time since July.
Meanwhile, input cost inflation quickened to a four-month high, while output prices declined at the fastest rate since June 2013.
Leigh Taylor, area director for SME Banking in the North East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The North East saw renewed momentum in November, with output growth accelerating over the month and exceeding the UK average by a small margin.
“Most encouragingly, the latest survey highlighted a return to job creation across the region, largely driven by hiring in the service sector.
“Meanwhile, manufacturers benefitted from falling oil-related prices on world markets in November, which should help margins during the months ahead.”