The outlook for jobs in the short term is increasingly positive, although with big differences across the UK and between the private and public sectors, according to new research.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said prospects were brightest in the South East, and in manufacturing and retail.
But employment looks set to contract in the North of England and in the public sector, its report warned.
A survey of 1,000 employers also found that most did not expect to see substantial growth in jobs in the medium term.
Fewer than one in five of those polled said they would increase employees by 2% if economic growth reached a similar figure, while two out of five said they would leave staffing levels the same.
Basic pay is expected to increase by 1.6% over the next year, slightly down on last quarter’s forecast of 1.7%.
CIPD spokesman Gerwyn Davies said: “The relationship between pay, productivity and employment is key to understanding the performance of the labour market in recent years.
“With clear signs of further rises in demand for goods and services, it is unsurprising to see employers intend to take on even more people in the short term.
“However, our data on medium-term recruitment intentions suggest that stronger economic growth in the next few years will not be accompanied by big rises in employment.
“With many employers retaining knowledge and skills during the last few tough years while also restructuring and recruiting for the future, they seem confident that they will be able to deliver their business objectives without needing to dramatically increase staffing over the medium term.
“Instead, many employers tell us they are focused on the need to raise productivity.”
The report was published ahead of the latest official unemployment figures on Wednesday.