Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 21 June 2020

Papoutsaki D, Williams M, Wilson T |   | Institute for Employment Studies | Jun 2020

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This is the eleventh 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 21 June 2020. The briefing sets out analysis of new vacancies, overall vacancy levels, and vacancies by area, job type and salary band.

This week’s briefing also includes analysis of changes in vacancy levels by occupation, by matching the unique Adzuna job titles against the Standard Occupational Classification.

As set out in the second briefing note, we use week ending 15 March (2nd week in March in text) when making comparisons with pre-crisis data.

Changes in new vacancies and vacancy levels

Our analysis finds that in the last week, there were 112 thousand new vacancies notified. This is 51 per cent lower than in the week before the crisis began and 58 per cent lower than for the equivalent week last year.  However there has once again been a slight increase in new vacancies compared to last week, of 6 per cent.  This is the third weekly increase in a row.

The overall level of vacancies at 21 June was 386 thousand.  This has ticked up again on last week (up by almost 19 thousand, or 5 per cent) but remains more than 400 thousand below pre-crisis levels and more than half a million below this time last year. 

Looking at the year-on-year fall in vacancies since the crisis began, the gap between this year and last year has narrowed for the fifth consecutive week.  Five weeks ago, this figure stood at 68 per cent, while in this week’s data it has narrowed to 59 per cent.  Clearly, though, these are modest improvements and vacancy levels remain subdued.

Changes in Occupations

This week we have matched the job titles to the Standard Occupational Classification 2020. We look at the percentage change of job vacancies by occupational group between the second week of March and the third week of June. We present the change on the 2-digit occupational level for all occupations and the changes on the 3-digit occupational level only for occupations with at least 1,000 job vacancies.

The lowest fall in vacancies is in health, care and educational professions, while the highest fall is in business, administrative and secretarial occupations. There is a lot of variation within the wider occupational categories:

■    In Professional Occupations vacancies in the sub-category of Business, Media and Public Service Professional fell by 67 per cent while vacancies in the sub-category of Health Professional fell only by 15 per cent.

■    In Associate Professional Occupations vacancies in the sub-category of Health and Social Care Associate Professional vacancies fell by less than 40 per cent while vacancies in the Business and Public Service Associate Professionals sub-category fell by 80 per cent.

■    In Skilled Trades Occupations vacancies in the sub-category of Skilled Construction and Building Trades fell by 58 per cent while vacancies in the Skilled agricultural and Related Trades fell by 29 per cent.

Local and regional changes in vacancy levels

This week we show the average level of vacancies for each month from March to June.  We have constructed these averages from the weekly snapshot data from the first week in March to the third week in June – i.e. it is an average of the number of vacancies advertised across all Sundays within the reference month (with the June data reporting only on the data available for the first week in June).

Vacancies by job type

■       The broad picture is consistent with the occupational data with health and care least affected. Healthcare jobs have the highest level of vacancies in June. This is followed by jobs in IT. Both those categories also had the highest number of advertised positions in March, which partly covers the period right before the crisis began.

■       The greatest percentage fall in vacancies between March and June is in Hospitality, Energy and Sales. The lowest fall during the same period is in Healthcare and Nursing, Domestic Health and Cleaning, and Social Work.

■       There have been increases in the number of advertised jobs across all job categories compared to last month. Some of the highest percentage increases are in Sales and Customer Service.

Vacancies by salary level

As with previous weeks, analysis of vacancy levels by salary bands uses Adzuna’s predicted salary  which is provided for each role. Figure 7 in the report shows that the £15,000-£24,000 salary band had the greatest fall in vacancies of all salary bands between March and June, both in percentage terms (56 per cent) and in absolute terms (168 thousand vacancies). The £45,000-£54,999 salary band had the highest proportionate increase between May and June (24 per cent) and the £15,000-£24,000 salary band had the highest increase in vacancies in absolute terms during the same period (12 thousand vacancies).

Conclusions and next steps

This week’s analysis shows a continued but slow recovery in new vacancies and overall vacancy levels. As the support from the Job Retention Scheme is coming to an end, the labour market is still reflecting the continued uncertainty and lack of confidence in businesses. Hiring into health, care, and social work occupations in particular, appears to be holding up, while vacancies remain very subdued in a broad range of occupations including hospitality and food preparation, administrative roles and some professions.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also produces a weekly update at the aggregate level using Adzuna data. Their analysis, including details on the differing methodologies used between our analyses, is detailed here.