At first glance, the jobs data found in the WaveTrackR April report may feel disheartening. Both jobs and applications decreased from March figures, as did the average number of applications per job. However, looked at on a weekly basis the pattern becomes clearer – and more positive.
A dip in the first couple of weeks makes more sense when the long Easter weekend is factored in – the drop in jobs coincided with the two weeks on either side of the long Easter weekend which may have contributed in a similar way to Christmas dips in job activity. After their meteoric rise at the end of March to record figures, jobs experienced a slump at the beginning of April, dropping from 196% over the 2020 average to +64% and then to +61% before beginning a sharp upwards trajectory. What is interesting – and tremendously encouraging – is that they rocket upwards over the following three weeks, ending the month at a record 216% above the 2020 average. Applications – though experiencing more of a turbulent month – rose to +115% in the final week of April, the second-highest figures seen this year.
When compared to a month such as March which experienced unexpectedly huge spikes in job activity, April was likely to see falling numbers but it still registered figures that far exceeded the 2020 average. Applications were 79% over the 2020 average and jobs were 145% over that average, higher than January and February this year too. The important point is that the levels of both jobs and applications remained strong when compared to the past year and given the UK is still in partial lockdown. Jobs and applications may be down on March overall but their climb as April wore on points to a post-Easter resurgence. With the vaccination rollout continuing at pace, vast numbers of businesses having re-opened to some degree on April 12th and all eyes now focusing on the next stage of lockdown easing on May 17th, consumer and business confidence appears still to be high.
WaveTrackR’s April report also highlighted Public Sector, IT & Internet, and Education as continuing to be the most active industries for both jobs and applications. Education has climbed in both areas, proving that the sector is still experiencing something of a boom. There’s good news for jobseekers in the Engineering sector as, after many months, Engineering dropped out of the top 5 for applications but is in the top 5 for jobs, indicating the sector is beginning to achieve more of a balance. Job growth in a sector that has struggled over the past year is certainly welcome news.
Meanwhile, Health & Nursing remains amongst the top industries for job posts but without the corresponding volume of applications, suggesting that the sector is still suffering from a candidate shortage. At just 3, Health & Nursing received the lowest average applications per job. It is an industry that has historically suffered from a high turnover of staff and with many frontline workers having to isolate or falling ill, job to applicant ratios seem set to remain high for some time.
Accountancy has experienced a surge of applications, placing it amongst the five industries receiving the highest numbers of applications. Interestingly, Finance and Banking received the two highest average sets of applications per job (43 and 41 respectively), with Accountancy (38) in fourth place. Following a year characterised by uncertainty and massive job losses, many crave the stability of jobs that will always be needed and will take less of a hit if lockdowns were to occur again. The financial sectors offer just that.
April may not have seen the dizzying highs of March but the upwards trajectory of both jobs and applications indicates future growth in line with an improving UK economy.