Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 19 April 2020

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

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This is the second in a series of weekly briefings 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 (www.adzuna.co.uk) – one of the largest online job search engines in the UK. This briefing covers vacancies up to Sunday 19 April 2020 and includes new analysis of the ‘flow’ of new vacancies as well as changes in levels.

Changes in vacancy levels and new vacancies

Our analysis finds that job vacancies across the UK have halved (falling by 51%) since the crisis began.  As at 15 March 2020, Adzuna was listing 820 thousand UK vacancies, which by 19 April had fallen to 399 thousand.  Over the last week vacancies have fallen by 76 thousand, or 16% – the largest fall in four weeks. 

Data on the ‘flow’ of new vacancies is particularly concerning.  New vacancy listings have fallen by three quarters (76%) since the start of the crisis.  Just 53 thousand vacancies were notified last week, compared with 226 thousand in week ending 15 March.  This significant fall in new vacancies means that the level of vacancies likely has further to fall in the coming weeks. 

Local and regional changes in vacancy levels

As with our first weekly briefing, vacancies in Scotland have fallen the most – down by 56%.  All English regions except for the North East have seen vacancies fall by 49-52% - with the North East, Wales and Northern Ireland seeing declines of 43-44%.  Analysis presented to local authority level shows however that changes within regions are far greater than those between them. 

Conclusions and next steps

As with the first briefing note published on Monday, this data presents a concerning picture on new hiring and current employer intentions.  The short-run impacts on vacancies of the economic shutdown are far greater than anything that we have seen in at least a generation.

Vacancies will undoubtedly rise again as the lockdown starts to ease, although there are differing views as to how quickly the labour market will recover.  As we set out in our Getting Back to Work report, the labour market tends to recover more slowly than the economy overall after a downturn, and it has taken at least seven years to fully recover after each of the last three recessions.  So we have set out in that report five priorities for action.

We will aim to publish further vacancy analyses at the end of each week, with more detailed analysis including of the types of jobs, the strength of local labour markets, and pay.  We would welcome input and feedback on this briefing note, and on the content and analysis for future briefings.