BDO Employment Index: UK hiring plans at 19-month high
Firms plan to hire more staff over the next six months than they have for almost the past two years, research suggests.
Accountancy firm BDO said its employment index - which measures private firms hiring intentions - was at a 19-month high.
It is the third month in a row that the survey has indicated private employment will grow.
However, most firms do not expect growth going forward, says BDO.
BDO's Employment Index reached 96.0 in March - its highest point since August 2011 - and the third month in row that it has been above the 95.0 level that indicates employment growth.
However, its output and optimism indices - which measure short-term turnover expectations and business performance - remain below the 95-level, at 93.0 and 92.2 respectively.
BDO's research also found that optimism in the manufacturing sector continued to decline, with its index plunging to 88.2 in April from February's 94.5.
In the service sector, BDO's research suggested confidence was improving, with its optimism index rising to 93.2 in April from February's 89.6.
BDO partner Peter Hemington said the increase in firms' hiring intentions was "encouraging", but said the decline in confidence for the manufacturing sector was concerning.
"It was disappointing to see little action taken in last month's budget to help this beleaguered sector," he added.
Manufacturing activity, which accounts for about a fifth of the UK economy, has been hit by weak demand for British manufactured goods from struggling eurozone economies.