Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 26 April 2020

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

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This is the third 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 26 April 2020 and includes new analysis of the changes in vacancies by salary levels.

Changes in vacancy levels and new vacancies

Our analysis finds that job vacancies across the UK have fallen further this week.  As at 15 March 2020, Adzuna was listing 820 thousand UK vacancies, which by 26 April had fallen to 364 thousand.  Over the last week vacancies have fallen by 40 thousand, or 9%. There was an increase at the number of new vacancies, the first rise in six weeks, and sees new vacancies returning to the levels reported in the last week of March.     

Local and regional changes in vacancy levels

Vacancies in London have fallen the most – down by 58%.  Scotland and all English regions except for the North East have seen vacancies fall by 53-58% - with the North East, Wales and Northern Ireland seeing declines of 46-50%.  Analysis presented to local authority level shows however that changes within regions are far greater than those between them.

Changes in vacancies by salary levels

The drop in vacancies between the 2nd week of March and the 4th week of April was the highest for vacancies with prospective earnings between £15,000-£24,000.  Higher paid jobs, where people are more likely to be able to work from home, have taken a smaller hit compared to those offering lower pay.  This is particularly evident for job types that suffered the greatest decrease in vacancies, where the drop of lower paid positions is significantly larger than that of high paid positions. However, for job types with the smallest decrease in vacancies (Domestic help & Cleaning, Healthcare & Nursing, and Social Work), there is an increase of advertised jobs within the lowest salary bands.

Conclusions and next steps

This data shows that, overall, hiring intentions declined further during the fourth week of April, although the decline in the level of vacancies appears to be stabilising and there was a welcome increase in the number of new vacancies notified compared to the third week of April.

The higher drop of low pay jobs compared to higher pay jobs reiterates growing concerns that those looking for entry level opportunities in the labour market – including young people but also those who are returning to work, may have lower qualifications or may be otherwise disadvantaged – are likely to bear the brunt of the slowdown in hiring in the recovery. 

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 what is driving changes in vacancies within local areas.  We would welcome input and feedback on this briefing note, and on the content and analysis for future briefings.