Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 10 May 2020

Wilson T, Cockett J, Gray H, Papoutsaki D, Williams M,  |   | Institute for Employment Studies | May 2020

cover image

This is the fifth in a series of weekly briefings exploring changes in vacancies since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. The work is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and uses vacancy data collected by Adzuna (www.adzuna.co.uk), one of the largest online job search engines in the UK. This briefing covers vacancies up to Sunday 10 May 2020.

Changes in new vacancies and vacancy levels

Last week there were 68 thousand new vacancies notified. This is one third lower (36%) than the level notified in the same week in 2009 and 70% lower than in the week before the crisis began.  There are no signs yet of any significant recovery in new job creation.

The overall level of vacancies at 10 May was 329 thousand This is only 2% lower than last week, and suggests that the fall in hiring may have reached its nadir.  However, vacancies have bottomed out at a level that is three fifths lower (60%) than before the crisis began and nearly two thirds (63%) below this time last year.  This would be the largest year-on-year fall in vacancies since vacancy records were first collected in 1948.

Changes by job types

The largest reductions in vacancies since the onset of the crisis have been in sales, HR and recruitment, hospitality and catering, and consultancy roles. This shows that ‘shut down’ sectors have been particularly affected by the crisis, but that hiring has slowed significantly across broad swathes of the economy and particularly the private sector.

Social work continues to be the only type of employment where the number of vacancies has increased since the crisis began, while reductions in vacancies in domestic help and cleaning and in healthcare and nursing have been just above 10%.  Looking over the last week, healthcare and nursing jobs accounted for one in five of all new jobs advertised, with social care accounting for a further one in ten. 

Local changes in vacancy levels

This weeks briefing includes analysis to Lower Tier Local Authority level.  This more detailed analysis reiterates that the fall in vacancies has been greatest in London, with seven out of the top ten Local Authorities with the largest falls in vacancies being in the capital.  By contrast, the North East, Wales and Northern Ireland have seen the smallest falls but account for only a small fraction of total vacancies.

Differences in vacancies between areas are driven by a range of factors, but in particular the extent to which local areas are either affected by ‘shut down’ sectors (particularly hospitality and high street retail) or protected by ‘key worker’ and wider public sector jobs (in health, social care and education).

Changes in vacancies by salary levels

The fall in vacancies has been greatest for jobs paying between £15,000 and £24,999 a year, with these down by nearly two thirds (64%).  This salary band accounts for the large majority of lower paid work. 

The relatively higher drop in vacancies in these jobs is being driven in particular by falls in job types affected by the shutdown, which are often lower paid, and by large falls in administrative roles.  

Changes in vacancies by productivity per person

In general, the largest falls in vacancies have been in areas with stronger economies (measured by Gross Value Added per capita).  This reflects the fact that areas with lower GVA have a higher proportion of key worker and public sector employment.  Jobs in healthcare, teaching and social work account for around three fifths of vacancies in lower GVA areas, compared with two fifths in areas with higher GVA per capita.

Looking ahead

We should start to see hiring begin to pick up in the coming weeks, although it is likely that this recovery will be slow.  At the same time, it is likely that unemployment has increased to around three million (or 8% of the workforce), meaning that there are likely to be around 8-9 unemployed people for every vacancy compared with 1.5 before the crisis began.

In our view the government now needs to prioritise the rapid scaling up of one-to-one support for those out of work to begin to prepare for a return to work as the economy recovers – mobilising recruitment services, local government, the voluntary and community sector and wider employment services to do this.  Alongside this, we need to begin to develop more intensive active labour market programmes in preparation for the large rises in long-term unemployment that are likely later in the year, including through a guaranteed offer of a job or training place for all long-term unemployed young people.  Our Getting Back to Work report sets out more detailed proposals in this space. 

We will aim to publish further vacancy analyses at the end of each week, and anticipate that future briefings will include:

■    A deep dive on areas that have experienced the greatest reductions in job vacancies to assess the drivers of change in these places 

■    Using the information on the Claimant Count to explore the unemployment-vacancy ratio within areas

■    A detailed analysis of the reduction in vacancies for different occupations

We would welcome input and feedback on this briefing note, and on the content and analysis for future briefings.