Job market of extremes: Salaries high, vacancies plunge.

Adzuna's insight.

Data from Adzuna suggests the UK job market is seeing its greatest extremes since April 2015. In terms of salaries, the picture looks rosy – advertised salaries are higher than they have been in almost four years. This, however, belies the fact that in real terms salaries still sit below 2012 levels. To further compound this news, the number of vacancies is at a four year low having fallen 3.5 per cent month-on-month. This follows the trend over the past year, which has seen the number of vacancies fall by 2.9 per cent since December 2017.

Adzuna’s findings include:

  • While vacancies have hit a record low (falling 2.9 per cent year-on-year), average advertised salaries have reached their highest point (rising 3.9 per cent year-on-year) – the largest extremes since April 2015.
  • The high street continues to be a precarious place to work, with retail seeing a 5.9 per cent year-on-year salary decrease as well as a halving of advertised vacancies in two years.
  • Wales is the only UK region to have seen a year-on-year salary decline, with a change of -0.5 per cent.

Despite the negative trend in vacancies, there was some positive news to be found for jobseekers in December as competition for vacancies fell. Between July 2018 and December 2018 the UK saw a 21.6 per cent decrease in the numbers of jobseekers per vacancy, from 0.37 to 0.29. Another glimmer of positivity can also be found within the salary data, with the average advertised salary now sitting at a four year high, having risen 3.9 per cent year-on-year.


Table 1: Total advertised vacancies and salaries

December 2018 November 2018 Monthly


Annual change from December 2017
UK Vacancies 1,068,625 1,107,291 -3.5 per cent -2.9 per cent
Jobseekers per Vacancy 0.29 0.31 -6.45 per cent -27.5 per cent
Av. Advertised UK Salary £34,213 £33,682 1.6 per cent 3.9 per cent


Adzuna also found the teaching profession continuing an impressive renaissance with a 14.4 per cent year-on-year increase in salaries and vacancies. A similar pattern is emerging in the hospitality industry where, perhaps picking up the slack from retail’s decline, we’ve seen a 4.7 per cent year-on-year salary increase and 10,000 more vacancies than two years previous. It’s highly likely that when retailers shut up shop hospitality businesses have been ready to move in take over their real estate.

The only UK region that has failed to reap the rewards from the UK’s highest salary levels in four years is Wales which has, unfortunately, seen a salary decrease of 0.5 per cent over the past year. South West England are the big winners as they’ve recorded a massive 8.2 per cent salary increase in 2018. Meanwhile, London continues to be the place to relocate to if you’re looking for big earnings with an average salary of £41,859 – more than £7,000 more than the next highest region in the UK. However, despite absolute salary growth almost across the board, if one looks deeper at the data the picture isn’t quite so rosy. While the East of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland have all seen absolute salary growth – their rates of growth were all below inflation and, as such, have actually seen a relative salary decrease over 2018.

“Our salary findings complement this month’s Office for National Statistics data, which reveals that UK employment is at a record high,” commented Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna. “However, we have different findings when it comes to current vacancies: Adzuna’s data relies in real-time job ads across the UK giving the most current picture of vacancies across the country.

“With salaries at their highest and vacancies at their lowest for four years, there may be room for cautious optimism at the moment,” he added. “However, one sector where the picture is not rosy is retail, where workers are feeling the pinch. We recently published reports that say they are the unhappiest workers in the UK, and it’s clear to see why: low salaries, declining vacancies, and the looming threat of closures make retail a challenging place to be.”


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