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Recruiter PageGroup sees positives despite wider economic woes

FILE PHOTO: A worker arrives at his office in the Canary Wharf business district in London

(Reuters) -PageGroup Plc said on Thursday it expected persistent candidate shortages and good levels of vacancies despite challenging macroeconomic conditions, as the global recruiter sounded more optimistic than its rivals on the hiring market.

The relatively positive update from PageGroup comes at a time when the recruitment industry battles a slowdown as elevated inflation levels, looming recession fears and the impact from the Ukraine conflict force companies globally to cut jobs or freeze hiring.

Page's rivals Hays and Robert Walters had flagged challenging market conditions, while Amsterdam-based Randstad had warned that recruiting had slowed as companies brace for a looming recession.

Page, however, acknowledged the persisting high level of global macro-economic and political uncertainty in majority of its markets, adding that performance in the second half of 2022 was impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns in China.

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China, a key market in Page's Asian operations, lifted strict pandemic-related restrictions only in December, while a raft of major U.S.-based technology firms have started or are set for massive layoffs, as companies look to rein in costs to ride out the economic downturn.

The company, with operations in around 40 countries, said hiring in temporary and contract jobs improved in the second half of 2022, performing better than the recruitment of permanent roles, a trend seen during economic uncertainty.

The Weybridge, UK-headquartered company proposed a final dividend of 10.76 pence per share, up from 10.30 pence payment a year earlier.

The FTSE midcap firm posted a more than 16% jump in operating profit at 196.1 million pounds ($232.5 million) for the full-year ended Dec. 31, slightly ahead of Refinitiv Eikon average analysts' estimate of 194.7 million pounds.

($1 = 0.8434 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Christopher Cushing)