The IT and computing sector is outperforming all other areas in a weak overall jobs market, the latest monthly Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs shows.

In the IT/computing sector database administrators; digital project managers; Java, .Net and SQL specialists; online marketers, web developers; and virtualisation skills were all in high demand.

Recruitment consultancies signalled further increases in overall permanent placements and temp billings during February. However, in both cases the general rates of expansion "moderated", although not in IT/computing.

Overall permanent appointments rose at their slowest pace in five months, while short-term appointments increased at their weakest rate since last August. Total demand for staff rose at the slowest rate in four months during February.

Starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs by recruitment consultancies rose further in February. The rate of inflation quickened to a 17-month high, "although it remained modest in the context of historical data", said the report. Hourly pay rates for temporary/contract staff were little-changed, showing only a "fractional rise".

Growth in permanent placements was registered in all English regions during the latest survey period, with the North posting the fastest expansion and London the slowest.

The strongest growth of temporary/contract staff billings was again signalled in the North during February. Increases in the Midlands and London were only "marginal", while the South recorded a slight decrease.

REC director of policy Tom Hadley said: "Competition for candidates intensified this month with private sector employers racing to secure the talent they need for growth from a decreasing pool of skilled workers.

"Starting salaries have risen to a 17-month high as companies realise they need to make more attractive offers to ensure they can persuade workers to join their workforce and not their rivals."

But Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, warned: "The February figures suggest that uncertainty is beginning to reverberate in organisations across the country.

"Appointments may still be moving in a positive direction, but with the pace of recruitment dropping to its slowest pace for five months, it won’t be a surprise if hiring decisions are delayed further, putting candidates and employers in an unwanted state of limbo."

Earlier this week it was reported that demand for information security experts in the US is outstripping the available supply by a widening margin.