Marketers’ hiring plans fall to lowest level yet as economic concerns bite

A lack of commitment to changing headcounts comes as businesses raise concerns about rising prices and increasing competitiveness.

The jobs market for the marketing industry took another hit in the second quarter of 2018, with mounting concerns about rising prices and increasing competitiveness resulting in the weakest degree of optimism towards job creation in the series’ history.

According to the latest IPA Bellwether Report, the proportion of businesses reporting plans to recruit extra staff stood at 26% compared to just under 15% anticipating job cuts.

While this indicates that marketers were largely optimistic that the overall size of their workforce would be expanded, the resulting net balance of +11% was down from the previous quarter’s +14.2% and significantly lower than Q2 2017’s +18.2%.

Notably, 60% of respondents forecast no change to staffing levels during the three month period, suggesting there is a fair degree of indecision towards future employment plans.

Nonetheless, overall optimism towards recruitment corroborates with opportunities identified by marketers, which include plans to capitalise on demand strength, introduce new product ranges and expand into new markets in pursuit of greater profit margins.

Despite uncertainty around employment, businesses remain positive about their own finances, according to the Bellwether, with a net balance of +13.3% of firms saying they were ‘optimistic’ in the second quarter – fractionally higher than Q1’s +13.1% and the greatest level of optimism since Q1 2017.

By contrast, confidence towards wider industry financial prospects was at -9.0% – although this was up from -13.6% in the previous quarter.

The findings come as figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal annual UK wage growth has slowed to its weakest pace in six months, with average total pay in the three months to May up 2.5% year on year. This is down from the 2.6% recorded in April and the slowest growth since November 2017.

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