Jobs recovery slows as virus returns

Adverts fall for first time since July

Last week saw the first fall in the number of active job adverts in the UK since July, according to figures from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). There were 1.28 million active job postings in the week of 5-11 October, a drop of 1.0% from the previous week.

There were 128,000 new job adverts posted last week, a fall of 7.6% from the previous week (28 September-4 October). However, there are still significantly higher numbers of new job adverts being posted than during the spring and summer – there were 33% more new postings last week than in the second week of July, three months earlier.

The hospitality sector was hit particularly hard last week, with significant decreases in active job adverts for bar staff (-17.3%), waiters and waitresses (-10.8%), chefs (-7.2%) and catering and bar managers (-6.7%). The number of active job postings for hospitality occupations fell most notably in Northern Ireland (-16.7%) and Scotland (-9.7%) – this comes as restaurants and pubs were closed across the central belt of Scotland in a bid to tackle rising COVID-19 cases.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“With Covid cases rising and further restrictions being imposed, a pause in the strong trend of recovery we have seen over the summer is perhaps not a surprise, though it’s deeply unwelcome.

“While this change is a concern, we expect it to be a pause on the path to recovery rather than a return to the jobs market of the first lockdown. Businesses have made a lot of progress on making workplaces Covid-secure and on effective home working – so hiring and onboarding online is becoming much more common.

“We do need to ensure that the right package of economic support is in place to help the regions and sectors hit by local lockdowns – including supporting temporary workers and the supply chains that support them.”

There were also notable falls in job adverts for bus and coach drivers (-6.8%) and air conditioning and refrigeration engineers (-6.2%). Meanwhile, there was a rise in postings for health roles such as podiatrists (+33.0%), medical technicians (+8.5%) and speech and language therapists (+7.2%).

This fall in active job postings was seen across almost every region and nation of the UK. On a regional level, the largest decrease was in the East Midlands (-3.9%), and was particularly pronounced in areas like North Northamptonshire (-12.6%) and South Nottinghamshire (-8.6%). There were also notable drops in parts of Northern Ireland like Ards & North Down (-8.7%) and Derry City & Strabane (-5.5%).

The only region which saw a rise in active job postings was north-west England, at +0.6%. In Liverpool the number of job adverts fell slightly (-0.6%) last week, before Tier 3 lockdown restrictions were introduced.

Matthew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi said:

“It’s been a slightly unusual couple of weeks on the data front with some unsurprisingly mixed indicators coming out of the various formal channels due to different reporting periods. Whilst ONS cited overall UK vacancy levels had increased again in the July to September period (from 436,000 to 488,000), we saw rising unemployment figures yet again this month to 4.5% (from June to August), indicating that the transition from the CJRS to the JSS may be starting to translate to job losses.

“Our last 2 weeks of job postings data (which is a more recent market indicator) suggest a slowdown in overall, UK-wide recruitment marketing activity. However, notably a number of ‘household’ retailers have more ‘Active’ postings than for the same period in the previous 2 years and the key worker sectors are still very active. It’s also worth highlighting that only Scotland and Wales saw an increase in total ‘New’ postings over the period, with a 5.77% and 5.45% rise respectively.”

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