Randstad flags slow European wages growth despite jobs recovery

Automation, global competition seen as contributing to weak rise in pay
By Bart Meijer
|payroll-reporter.com|Last Updated: 02/15/2018
Robot
Women communicate with the humanoid robot Pepper during Riga Comm 2017, a business technology and innovation fair in Latvia, Nov. 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) — Randstad, the world's second-largest staffing company, said on Tuesday wage growth in Europe remains modest, despite the strong recovery in the job markets.

Accelerating economic growth and falling unemployment throughout Europe helped Randstad to its highest sales growth since 2011 last year, with European revenues increasing 11 percent in the last quarter.

Growth was strongest in France, Spain, Italy and Germany, while revenue remained virtually flat in North America, the company's largest market before France and the Netherlands.

The strong job markets is leading to labour shortages, especially in the U.S., but also in certain sectors in Europe, Randstad CFO Robert Jan van de Kraats told Reuters.

Engineers and other technically skilled workers in particularly are becoming more scarce in Europe, Van de Kraats said in a telephone interview, with the clearest signs in the strongest economic regions such as the south of Germany.

But these shortages had not yet translated into clear signs of wage growth, he said.

"You would expect wage inflation, but we don't really see it. Many companies still deal with price pressures due to heavy competition, leaving little room for higher wages."

Wage growth in many rich countries has failed to pick up even as unemployment falls, stumping many economists. The rise of automation and increasing global competition are seen as contributing to the weak rise in pay.

However, pay talks now taking place in Germany are expected to end years of wage restraint in Europe's biggest economy, potentially helping the European Central Bank get euro zone inflation back up to its target rate of just below two per cent.

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