Permanent and temporary appointments grew strongly last month as the number of job vacancies increased by the fastest rate in over 15 years, according to new research.

The January KPMG/REC ‘Report on Jobs’ provides further evidence that the economic recovery is filtering down to the jobs market as data provided by Britain’s leading recruitment consultancies indicated brighter times ahead for the nation’s working population.

According to figures cited by kpmg.com, job creation grew at the fastest pace since May 1998. Growth in temporary billings came close to the 15-year high seen in December, while permanent placements – following on from a 45-month high in December – eased slightly but still enjoyed healthy growth.

As the number of jobs increased, the number of available staff continued to decline. Applicants for both temporary and permanent roles dropped in January as more job seekers found their way into work.

Tom Hadley, director of policy & professional services at REC, told theglobalrecruiter.com: “The squeeze on people’s finances continues to dominate the news but this month’s data shows there is hope for workers.”

Mr Hadley added that permanent starting salaries and hourly pay rates across all regions are continuing to grow, albeit only slightly from strong readings in December.

In spite of this, Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, urged companies not to get too carried away with the findings and to be cautious about their hiring.

“Earlier this week markets across the globe fell as investors were rattled by weak data,” he highlighted.

“It’s unlikely to herald a crisis, but should serve to ensure employers remain vigilant to business threats.”