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Bloomberg reports a trend for more temporary and contract workers

Bloomberg is reporting a trend amongst UK businesses to employ temporary and contract workers, rather than full time employees, amidst economic uncertainty and increasing wage costs.

A KPMG report published this morning shows the steepest decline in full-time hiring in two years during April, whilst at the same time billings for temporary staff rose at its fastest pace since September. The report says that whilst businesses are seeing growth, they’re hedging their bets on whether this growth sticks around by covering through temps. Businesses have struggled to find talent over the last couple of years as labour supply has been particularly tight, but this is showing signs of improvement with back to back months of supply increases – though this is being partially driven by redundancies, which somewhat dulls the picture. The demand for staff is still growing almost universally across the economy, though the one exception is the retail sector, where demand for both temporary and permanent staff is in decline.

The House of Lords will today debate the government’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill today, which is expected to face fierce criticism – though is ultimately likely to pass. Lib Dem peer Lord Paddick is intending to put forward a “motion to decline” the bill, but without Labour backing this is unlikely to happen. Rishi Sunak will be hoping that this does pass the House of Lords as it is one of his five immediate priorities for 2023. As a reminder the others are: Paperback Books Halving inflation (something completely outside of his control), Economy growing (this one should be achievable), Debt falling (so far so good, particularly in real terms as inflation takes care of that), Cutting NHS waiting lists (not if strikes continue).

The Conservatives got a very bloody nose over the weekend, as the final local council election results showed them losing 1,063 seats, which was worse than even their own disaster predictions – though David Davis assured the News Agents yesterday that “it could have been worse” had Boris Johnson or Liz Truss been in Number 10. Therefore, Rishi Sunak will be clinging onto his central government agenda as the local government influence wanes significantly between now and the next general election.

Financial markets have been trading pretty tight ranges over the last 24 hours as investors get ready to take a look at US inflation data later today. A couple of notable points are that interest rate futures are showing that US rates will be lower at the end of the year than they are now, but that expectations for them being much lower have been pared back over the last few sessions. Yesterday Fed member John Williams cautioned that rates could yet move higher if inflation doesn’t come under control. Today’s CPI number is forecast to be in line with last month’s but given jobs numbers were higher than expected last week we wouldn’t be surprised if inflation goes the same way too.

Oil is an exception to the tight trading ranges, as they have capitulated between moving higher on concerns over Canadian wildfires potentially hampering supply and sticky inflation potentially quelling demand. The price of a barrel is now back to where it was in mid-March, before OPEC+ announced in early April that they were cutting production by a million barrels per day. The move could continue too, with futures markets having twice the amount of short positions in the first week of May compared to the last week of April.

Debt ceiling headlines remain abundant this morning, with Biden now weighing in and urging Republicans to drop the threat of default, saying “let’s discuss what we need to cut, what

we need to protect, what new revenue we can raise and how to lower the deficit to put our fiscal house in order… but in the meantime, we need to take the treat of default off the table… this nation has never defaulted on its debt. It never will”. When we first wrote some commentary on the debt ceiling it was in 2011 and the ceiling was raised from $14.3 trillion to $16.4 trillion – today the ceiling is $31.4 trillion. US GDP in 2011 was $15.6 trillion and in 2022 was $25.5 trillion – which means that debt is outpacing GDP – which also means for all the talk of “getting the house in order” there’s very little action.

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