Situations vacant: Online job adverts during the crisis and recovery

Cockett J, Wilson T  |   | Institute for Employment Studies | Jun 2021

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This briefing note sets out new analysis of online job postings, drawing on vacancy data held by Adzuna, one of the largest online job search engines in the UK.  This is the same data source as is used by the Office for National Statistics in their fortnightly Economic activity and social change in the UK bulletins, and builds on work conducted by IES between April and October of last year (with the full series available here).

The analysis confirms that there has been a strong recovery in vacancies this summer, to levels well above the same time two years ago. It appears likely that next month will see the ONS Vacancy Survey reporting the highest single-month vacancy figures since the series began in 2001.

This recovery is being driven by new job adverts – with nearly 350 thousand new vacancies in the last week alone – and appears to reflect both ‘structural’ changes with the pandemic (with strong demand in IT, warehousing/ logistics and public services) as well as a ‘cyclical’ recovery in industries like construction, hospitality and manufacturing.

  • Nearly one third of all vacancies are in IT, construction/ trades or warehousing/ logistics (330 thousand in total); while
  • There are nearly 130 thousand vacancies in healthcare, nursing and social work; and
  • Nearly 75 thousand in both hospitality and sales.

This fairly broad-based recovery across industries has also fed through into generally larger rises in vacancies in regions and areas where demand was previously lower. Vacancies are up by between two fifths and two thirds across the Midlands, north of England and Wales, while they have risen less strongly in southern England (and in fact have fallen in London). Scotland and Northern Ireland are also faring relatively less well. 

However, of more concern is the fact that unemployment remains elevated – with the headline unemployment rate still well above pre-crisis levels, long-term unemployment rising at its fastest in a decade, and the claimant count still at double where it was on the eve of the crisis.

Looking ahead, this analysis suggests that despite a strong recovery in hiring we still have a long way to go both in supporting those out of work to take up new jobs being created and in helping employers to fill their posts. This points to the need to quickly mobilise the increased investment that has been made in supporting the unemployed; to work much better with employers to support re-training and job matching; and to ensure that the ‘levelling up’ agenda helps to create opportunities for those already out of work.