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The Impact of Coronavirus on UK Job Postings Through February 26: Data from Indeed

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Job postings recovery remains slow, but reopening roadmap offers hope for hardest-hit sectors.

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 36.2% below the February 1, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline, seasonally adjusted, as of February 26, 2021. That was a marginal gain from a week earlier, when postings were 36.8% below the baseline. 

Though the gap is the narrowest since the start of 2021, the job postings recovery has been slow recently amid Lockdown 3. But with the UK’s vaccine rollout proceeding swiftly, the Prime Minister’s roadmap for reopening the economy gives employers visibility and jobseekers hope of a pick-up. 

Hope for hardest hit sectors

Job postings remain 75-80% down on pre-pandemic levels in sectors most affected by social distancing, namely beauty & wellness, food preparation & service and hospitality & tourism. Job postings in sports are down 54%. But those sectors may now start to ramp up hiring in anticipation of targeted reopening dates under the roadmap. 

The only sector where job postings are above pre-pandemic levels is medical technician (up 4.1%). Construction has made solid gains over the past month and is now only 1.7% below the baseline. Community & social service, veterinary and production & manufacturing are down modestly. 

Regional trends

Northern Ireland is now the weakest performer regionally, followed by the South East. The West Midlands and North West are closest to the pre-pandemic baseline. 

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.