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UK Job Postings Through 7 May: Recovery Continues

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Job postings closing in on pre-crisis 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 continues apace. Job postings — a real-time measure of labour market activity — were 3.6% below the 1 February, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline, seasonally adjusted, as of 7 May, 2021. That was an improvement from -10.0% a fortnight ago and continues the period of rapid growth since the government’s reopening roadmap was announced on 22 February.

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 May 7, 2021. As of May 7, 2021, job postings were 3.6% below the February 1, 2020, pre-pandemic baseline. Captin added post-publication.

Reopening sectors continue to lead the upturn

Growth continues to be led by reopening sectors. Food preparation & service jobs are now 4% above their pre-pandemic level, having been over -80% down when the roadmap was announced on 22 February. Sports, cleaning & sanitation, chemical engineering, retail, hospitality & tourism and loading & stocking have also seen solid gains over the past fortnight.

Table titled “Reopening sectors continue to 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 May 7, 2021, including the percentage point change since April 23, 2021. As of May 7, 2021, food preparation & service jobs were 4% above their pre-pandemic level. Caption added post-publication.

Regional recovery remains uneven

Most regions have now surpassed pre-crisis levels of job postings, led by the North East and Wales. Northern Ireland, London, the South East and Scotland continue to lag. 

Bar chart titled “Job postings on Indeed UK.” Indeed compared the percent change in job postings among the UK regions along a horizontal axis ranging from -30% to 20% from February 1, 2020, to May 7, 2021. As of May 7, 2021, the North East had the biggest change with 15% above the February 1, 2020 baseline. Caption added post-publication.

Are there hiring challenges — and is this impacting pay?

Anecdotal reports suggest some employers have been encountering hiring challenges, particularly in the hospitality sector. These could be driven by mismatches between the location of jobs and candidates, especially in big cities where transport costs are high — or by the fact that former hospitality workers could have switched sectors during the pandemic. 

But the degree of hiring challenges always depends on the offered rate of pay. There has been a modest increase in advertised rates of pay in food preparation & service job advertisements in recent weeks. Median hourly wages in job postings rose from £9.25 from January to mid-April to £9.38 in the first week of May, an increase of 1.4%. 

There are few signs of rising advertised wages in other sectors that have seen robust hiring in recent months like driving, cleaning and loading & stocking jobs. Median hourly wages in job postings in those sectors are all flat at £12.00, £9.00 and £9.50. At the macro level, claims that the economy is running out of workers are far-fetched when millions of people are still on furlough and youth unemployment remains high.

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 1 February, 2020, using a seven-day trailing average. 1 February, 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 adopted this new methodology in January 2021. This week we applied our quarterly revision, which updates seasonal factors and fixes data anomalies. Historical numbers have been revised and may differ from originally reported values.

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.