Real time vacancy analysis: Early findings on changes in vacancy levels by local area and job type

Wilson T, Papoutsaki D, Cockett J, Williams M |   | Institute for Employment Studies | Apr 2020

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This Briefing Note is the first of a series exploring changes in vacancies since the Covid-19 crisis began.  The work is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and uses vacancy data collected by Adzuna (  This first briefing presents early findings on how vacancy levels have changed overall, across local areas and by different job types.

Headline findings

Our analysis finds that job vacancies across the UK have fallen by 42% since the lockdown began in mid-March.  As at 15 March 2020, Adzuna was listing 820 thousand UK vacancies, which by 12 April had fallen to 475 thousand.  This monthly fall is two-and-a-half times greater than the previous largest single monthly fall recorded in official vacancy statistics, of 17% in the depths of the last recession (November 2008).

Changes in vacancy levels by geographical area

Each vacancy held by Adzuna has a geographical identifier, which we have mapped to Government Office Region and to Upper Tier Local Authority level.   The analysis to regional level, which includes the three devolved nations, finds that the largest falls in vacancy levels have been in Scotland (down 49%) and London (down 44%). 

London has the highest level of vacancies of any region or nation, so a quarter of all of the fall in vacancies between last month and this month is accounted for by an 86 thousand reduction in job openings in London.  Similarly, while the South East has seen its vacancies fall by slightly less than the national average (at 40%), the size of the South East economy means that the 65 thousand fall in vacancies equates to nearly a fifth (19%) of the overall fall.

By contrast, Northern Ireland and the North East have seen vacancies fall by around one third (35%).  However, these two regions account for only a small fraction of all job opportunities (just 2.5% of the total).

For the local analysis, we have mapped the postal town of the vacancy to local areas on a ‘best fit’ basis.  In all of the country except for London and Northern Ireland, we have mapped to the Upper Tier Local Authority level (which includes Counties, Metropolitan Districts and Unitary Authorities).  Analysis for London and Northern Ireland has been broken down into seven and four areas respectively.

This analysis shows that the differences within regions are greater than those between them.  In all, ten local areas have seen vacancies fall by 50% or more, while fifteen areas have seen vacancies fall by less than 30%.  Full details on the changes by local area are set out in the briefing note.

Changes by job types

Finally, we have analysed changes in vacancies by the high level ‘job types’ that are recorded by Adzuna.  These categorise all jobs into one of 27 groups, reflecting the broad occupational category for that work. 

Unsurprisingly, the largest single fall has been in hospitality and catering jobs (down 70%), which have been most affected by the economic shutdown.  However, it is concerning that there are very steep falls across a broad range of job types and not just in those directly shut down.  Notably, vacancies have fallen by more than 60% in sales, administration, public relations, consulting, HR and recruitment, energy and charity work.

By volume, the largest falls have been in IT (down 44 thousand), sales (43 thousand), accounting and finance (37 thousand) and engineering (35 thousand).  Combined, these four job types account for nearly half (44%) of all of the fall in vacancies.

Looking at those job types where vacancies are holding up, job openings have fallen only slightly in healthcare and have risen in social work and in cleaning.  With the steep falls in vacancies elsewhere, these three areas now account for a quarter of all open vacancies compared with just one in seven a month ago.

Conclusions and next steps

This early analysis of real-time vacancy data paints a fairly stark picture of how the jobs market and employer demand have been affected over the first month of lockdown.  These impacts are far greater than anything that has been witnessed in at least a generation, and are affecting all places and nearly all parts of the economy.

It shows in particular that many workers who are at high risk of being in poverty, such as those working in restaurants and in non-food retail, are likely among those being hardest hit.   At the same time, it demonstrates that demand has fallen dramatically in many professional occupations too.

Nonetheless, one conclusion from this analysis is that there remain nearly half a million current live vacancies, and that this number appears to have stabilised in the last two weeks.  So there are still jobs available for those looking for work, and it is important to keep supporting those who are out of work to find those jobs.

None of this analysis should be read as arguing that the lockdown should be eased in the immediate future.  Until Covid-19 is under control, we risk far greater economic damage by ending the lockdown than we do by continuing it. 

Assuming that the lockdown can be eased during May and June, we should expect to see vacancies start to rise again.  There are differing views about how rapid that recovery will be but in our view it is imperative that government, employers and wider labour market stakeholders start planning for that recovery now. 

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing further analysis of new vacancy data as this becomes available.  We would welcome input and feedback on this briefing note, and on the content and analysis for future briefings.