PAGE, RWA, STAF: Stocks in focus as unemployment dips to 48-year low

May 17, 2022 01:45 PM BST | By Abhishek Sharma
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  • The average regular wages in the UK fell by 1.2% in real terms during the first quarter of 2022.
  • The unemployment rate also dropped to the lowest since 1974 during the period.

Even as UK households struggle with the high cost of living amid the soaring food and energy bills, wages in the country have continued to fall, according to the latest data shared by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

As per the ONS data published on Tuesday, regular pay excluding bonuses grew by 4.2% per year in the quarter to March. However, when adjusted for inflation, it fell in real terms to -1.2%. Notably, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 7% in March and is likely to go further up in April. The growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was recorded at 7.0%. The real total pay remained in the positive territory due to strong bonus payments, while the average regular pay saw the biggest decline since 2013, ONS said.

In the first three months of 2022, the total pay growth for the private sector stood at 8.2%, but for the public sector, it was just 1.6%. The largest growth rate was witnessed by the finance and business services sectors.

Wages in the UK continued to fall in Q1 2022, according to the latest ONS data.

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Unemployment rate lowest since 1974

While the wages failed to surpass inflation, the unemployment rate for the period was recorded at 3.7%, which is the lowest since 1974. The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for Q1 2022 show that the employment rate in the UK rose by 0.1 percentage points to reach 75.7%. However, it remains behind the pre-COVID period.

Amid the release of employment data, the FTSE started on a positive note on Tuesday morning. Let's look at some recruitment stocks and how they have been faring.

PageGroup Plc (LON: PAGE)

PageGroup Plc provides recruitment consultancy and support services to customers across the UK and Europe. For the first quarter of 2022, the group reported revenue of £258.2 million, a 42.6% increase over the same period last year. Particularly for the UK market, its gross profit climbed to £36.9 million from £25.7 million in Q1 2021.

PageGroup's shares were trading at GBX 483.20, up 1.60% at 12:04 pm GMT+1. Over the past one year, the stock value has depreciated by over 18%, while the year-to-date (YTD) return stands at -23.75%.

Robert Walters Plc (LON: RWA)

The British company provides recruitment consultancy services across the globe and caters to multiple industries including engineering, accounting & finance, etc. The FTSE All-Share constituent posted a 27% increase in net fee income of £98.4 million in the first three months to March 2022.

The company holds a market capitalisation of £409.58 million, and its shares were trading at GBX 508.00 as of 10:58 am GMT+1 on 17 May 2022. The share value has plunged by nearly 24% over the past one year, while the YTD return stands at -34%

Staffline Group Plc (LON: STAF)

The leading recruitment and training service provider is headquartered in Nottingham, UK and is listed on the FTSE AIM All-Share index.

The company's shares have plunged by more than 27% over the past year, and the YTD returns stand at 20.26%. Staffline's shares were trading at GBX 50.00 as of 12:20 am GMT+1 on 17 May 2022, with a market capitalisation of £81.23 million.

Note: The above content constitutes a very preliminary observation or view based on industry trends and is of limited scope without any in-depth fundamental valuation or technical analysis. Any interest in stocks or sectors should be thoroughly evaluated taking into consideration the associated risks.


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