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The Impact of Coronavirus on UK Job Postings Through January 29: Data from Indeed

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UK job postings on January 29 were 39.1% below the February 1, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline. Hiring recovery has stuttered in January amid Lockdown 3.

We regularly update this report to track the pandemic’s effects on the labour market. Our methodology changed at the start of 2021 — see note at end of post.

Job postings — a real-time measure of labour market activity — were 39.1% below the February 1, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline, seasonally adjusted, as of January 29, 2021. That was a slight gain from a week earlier, when postings were 40.5% below the baseline. 

Though improvements have been seen for three successive weeks, the position remains weaker than at the start of 2021, when postings were 36.3% below the baseline. Labour market conditions remain challenging amid the third national lockdown, though the impact on job postings has been far smaller than in the first national lockdown in spring 2020. 

This line graph shows the percentage change in job postings on Indeed UK since 01 Feb 2020, seasonally adjusted, 29 Jan 2021. The total change from 01 Feb 2020 to 29 Jan 2021 was a -39.1% change.

Job postings plunged from mid-March to early June 2020, to a low of 60% below the February 1, 2020 baseline. The recovery since then has been slow and gradual, with much ground still to make up to return postings to the pre-crisis baseline. 

UK lags internationally

The UK has experienced a sharper downturn and slower recovery in job postings than other advanced economies. 

This line graph compares the UK, US, Australia, France and Germany’s percentage change in job postings since 01 Feb 2020 to 29 Jan 2021 highlighting that the UK hiring recovery lags behind the other countries compared.

This hiring underperformance mirrors broader economic trends. Analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests the UK economy experienced a deeper slump than its G7 peers, even after accounting for differences in the measurement of government spending. 

The UK also suffered the G7’s biggest drop in household spending, which the ONS linked to the relative stringency and duration of restrictions in the UK as well as voluntary social distancing. Social spending, such as eating out, holidays and recreation, has been particularly hard hit, which may have affected the UK more than other countries

The UK’s job retention scheme also helps explain certain cross-country differences in job posting recovery, particularly versus the US (where job postings have already slightly surpassed their pre-crisis baseline). Whereas a US business upon reopening may tend to rehire from unemployment, a UK employer may be more likely to recall staff from furlough. 

Healthcare jobs lead the recovery while face-to-face services jobs remain hardest hit

Sectoral impacts remain uneven. The only category where job postings are above their pre-pandemic baseline is medical technicians (up 5%). Personal care & home health is the next most resilient category (with postings down 6%), followed by nursing, manufacturing and community & social service. 

The weakest performers are sectors heavily impacted by social distancing like food preparation & service (down 83%), beauty & wellness (down 82%) and hospitality & tourism (down 77%). The sports category, which includes coaches, fitness instructors and golf professionals, is down 61%, having seen a particularly sharp deterioration since the start of January. 

This chart shows the percentage change in UK job postings, seasonally adjusted, Jan 29, 2021. The strongest performing sectors were as follows: Medical Technicians had a 5% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a 0 percentage point (ppt) change since 31-Dec 2020, Personal Care & Home Health had a -6% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -3 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, Nursing saw a -10% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a 4 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, Manufacturing had a -12% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -8 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, Community & Social Service had a -14% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -10 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020. The weakest performing sectors are as follows: Customer Service saw a -58% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -13 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, Sports saw a -61% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -27 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, Hospitality & Tourism had a -77% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -6 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, Beauty & Wellness had a -82% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -16 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020, and Food Preparation & Service had a -83% change since 1-Feb 2020 and a -11 ppt. change since 31-Dec 2020.

Regional trends

Regionally, job postings are down most in the South East, followed by Northern Ireland, Scotland and London. The North East and West Midlands are closest to the pre-pandemic baseline. 

This bar chart shows the percentage change by region of job postings on Indeed UK since Feb 01 2020, seasonally adjusted, to Jan 29 2021. South East saw a -45.0% change, Northern Ireland a -41.9% change, Scotland saw a -40.3% change, London saw a -40.1% change, South West saw a -36.9% change, North West saw a -34.0% change, East of England saw a -32.8% change, East Midlands saw a -32.2% change, Yorkshire & the Humber saw a -31.4% change, Wales saw a -30.9% change, West Midlands saw a -27.9% change, and North East saw a -26.6% change.

We will continue to provide regular updates on these trends as the situation evolves. We also host the data behind the postings trends plots on Github as downloadable CSV files. Typically, the site will be updated with the latest data one day after the respective Hiring Lab tracker is published.

Methodology

All figures in this blogpost are the percentage change in seasonally-adjusted job postings since February 1, 2020, using a 7-day trailing average. February 1, 2020, is our pre-pandemic baseline. We seasonally adjust each series based on historical patterns in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Each series, including the national trend, occupational sectors, and sub-national geographies, is seasonally adjusted separately. 

We switched to this new methodology in January 2021 and now report all historical data using this new methodology. Historical numbers have been revised and may differ significantly from originally reported values. The new methodology applies a detrended seasonal adjustment factor to the percentage change in job postings. In contrast, our previous methodology used the 2019 change between February 1 and the reported date as the adjustment factor, which implicitly included both a seasonality component and the underlying trend. 

For nearly all series, job postings trended upward in 2019. The new methodology no longer subtracts out the underlying 2019 trend, so most historical figures are higher (i.e. less negative relative to the February 1, 2020 baseline) with the new methodology than originally reported.

Information is based on publicly available information on the Indeed UK website (and any other countries named in the post), is limited to the UK (and those countries), is not a projection of future events, and includes both paid and unpaid job solicitations.