Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 3 May 2020

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

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This is the fourth 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 3 May 2020 and includes new analysis of how recent changes in vacancies vary between areas with different levels of productivity before the crisis.

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 3 May had fallen to 337 thousand. Over the last week vacancies have fallen by 27 thousand, or 7%. There are signs of recovery in the number of new vacancies advertised however, as the number of new vacancies increased for the second consecutive week. New vacancies notified in the week to 3 May exceeded levels last seen in the final week of March.

Local and regional changes in vacancy levels

Northern Ireland has seen the smallest reduction in vacancies, at 47%, followed by Wales at 54%. Vacancy levels in Scotland have dropped by 60% compared to the period before the crisis and most parts of England have experienced a similar decline. Analysis at local authority level shows once again that changes within regions are far greater than those between them.

Changes by job types

The largest reductions in vacancies advertised between the second week in March and the week to 3 May were in sales, HR and recruitment and hospitality and catering roles. The number of vacancies advertised for these jobs currently stands at about 20 per cent of the level seen prior to the crisis. Social work is the only type of employment where the number of vacancies has increased compared with the second week in March. Reductions in vacancies have also been much more modest for jobs in domestic help and cleaning and healthcare and nursing.

Changes in vacancies by productivity per person

The largest reductions in the numbers of vacancies following the crisis have occurred in the most productive areas. By contrast, areas where productivity levels per person were lower prior to the crisis have experienced more modest falls in the total number of vacancies advertised. This may be partly due to vacancies in lower productivity areas being more heavily dominated by jobs for key workers. Within areas where productivity per person is lowest, jobs in healthcare and nursing and teaching accounted for the largest percentage of vacancies advertised prior to the crisis. By contrast, IT and accounting and finance jobs were responsible for the largest share of vacancies advertised in the most productive areas in the week before the crisis.

Conclusions and next steps

There are signs that the increase in the number of new vacancies noted in last week’s briefing has been sustained, with a further modest increase on the previous week’s rise. Nevertheless, new vacancies notified last week were at around one-third of the level seen in the same week in 2019. In general, areas where productivity levels per person were lowest prior to the crisis have experienced relatively smaller reductions in the total number of vacancies being advertised than areas where productivity levels were highest.

Our Getting Back to Work report explores these issues in more detail and sets out proposals for ensuring that those out of work are supported to remain close to work and re-enter employment in due course.  We suggest five priorities for action, including investment in new active labour programmes for those out of work; refocusing skills and training to support the recovery; an integrated and coherent offer for young people; an orderly withdrawal from the Job Retention Scheme; and a new, partnership-based, ‘Back to Work’ campaign.

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; and 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.