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The Impact of Coronavirus on UK Job Postings Through April 9: Data from Indeed

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Job postings were stable last week following recent strong gains, remaining 16% below pre-pandemic levels.

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.

The job postings recovery paused for breath last week after kicking up a gear in March. Job postings — a real-time measure of labour market activity — were 16.4% below the February 1, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline, seasonally adjusted, as of April 9, 2021. That was little-changed from -16.0% a week earlier. Since the government’s reopening roadmap was announced on February 22, there has been a 20.4 percentage point (ppt) improvement in job postings relative to the pre-pandemic baseline. 

Line graph titled “Job postings on Indeed UK.” With a vertical axis ranging from -60% to 0%, Indeed tracked the percent change in job postings along a horizontal axis ranging from February 1, 2020, to April 9, 2021. As of April 9, 2021, job postings were 16.4% below the February 1, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline. Caption added post-publication.

Reopening sectors among the biggest improvers

There have been broad-based improvements across sectors since the roadmap. The biggest gain has been in the sports category (+48.7 ppts), followed by therapy (+45.8 ppts) and loading & stocking (+43.0 ppts). 

The second stage of England’s reopening on April 12 allowed personal care establishments and outdoor hospitality to resume. The beauty & wellness (+42.6 ppts) and food preparation & service (+38.2 ppts) categories have seen among the strongest gains in job postings since February 22.  

Table titled “Reopening sectors see pick-up in job postings.” Indeed compared the percent change in UK job postings among various sectors divided into biggest improvements and smallest improvements from February 1, 2020 to April 9, 2021, including the percentage point change since February 22, 2021. As of April 9, 2021, the biggest gain was in the sports sector, with a 48.7% increase in share of UK job postings since the February 1, 2020 baseline. Caption added post-publication.

Regional trends

Job postings in several regions are now approaching pre-pandemic levels. The North East has the smallest gap (-5.7%), followed by the West Midlands (-7.3%) and Wales (-7.4%). By contrast, Northern Ireland is considerably lagging (-37.0%). Restrictions in Northern Ireland are being eased on a slightly more cautious timescale than the rest of the UK. 

Bar chart titled “Job postings on Indeed UK,” Indeed compared the percent change in job postings among the various regions along a horizontal axis ranging from -40% to 0% between February 1, 2020 and April 9, 2021. As of April 9, 2021, the North East had the smallest gap with -5.7% change in job postings compared to February 1, 2020 baseline. Caption added post-publication.

Jobseekers anticipating reopening sectors

Jobseekers have been shifting their searches towards reopening sectors. The fastest rising search terms on Indeed UK over the latest two-week period include several retail and hospitality-related terms. The biggest increase though was for “summer” as jobseekers look for upcoming seasonal roles. 

Table titled “Fastest-rising job search terms on Indeed UK.” Indeed listed the top ten search terms by change in the share of searches between March 26, 2021 and April 9, 2021. As of April 9, 2021, the search term ‘summer’ ranked top with 69% growth on previous two weeks. Caption added post-publication.

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.

The number of job postings on Indeed.com, whether related to paid or unpaid job solicitations, is not indicative of potential revenue or earnings of Indeed, which comprises a significant percentage of the HR Technology segment of its parent company, Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. Job posting numbers are provided for information purposes only and should not be viewed as an indicator of performance of Indeed or Recruit. Please refer to the Recruit Holdings investor relations website and regulatory filings in Japan for more detailed information on revenue generation by Recruit’s HR Technology segment.