Job vacancies in the UK have fallen by more than 40% since March as the coronavirus lockdown put the labour market in a “deep slowdown”, Sky News can reveal.
Analysis of data from job portals shows some sectors, including beauty and wellness, and hospitality and tourism, have experienced falls of 80% in new jobs as hiring growth fell “across almost every industry” in the UK.
Adverts on Indeed, the search engine for jobs, started being withdrawn about a week before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown on 23 March to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Jack Kennedy, an economist at Indeed, said that ever since the government “paused” the economy over COVID-19 fears, the job market has been on “rewind”.
He added: “These numbers point towards the UK entering a deep slowdown and with millions of people furloughed or losing their jobs.”
Industries that depend on physical contact with customers have been hit worse than others. The hospitality sector has come to a standstill as has airlines that are mostly unable to fly since the lockdown measures were enforced.
Although the fall in new job postings were recorded across the entire economy, sectors that were more readily able to adapt their employees to work from home, such as finance and IT, have seen a smaller decline in job adverts.
Data from the professional social media site LinkedIn shows the healthcare sector is the only exception with year-on-year growth of 14% largely driven by immediate demand for frontline roles in hospitals, through to medical device and pharmaceutical companies.
Senior economist at LinkedIn, Mariano Mamertino, said: “As Britain devises its lockdown exit strategy, we’re seeing that the healthcare industry is still showing growth, and industries such as IT and software are weathering the storm to a certain extent, and currently offer the most likely opportunities for people looking for roles.”
The demand shock created by the lockdown has impacted every region of the UK, but some regions more than others, the data shows.
Firms in a majority of the regions of the UK have at least halved their job vacancies while companies in Scotland and Northern Ireland showed the steepest fall in new hirings.
Although London is witnessing the biggest contraction of new jobs in a decade, the region appears to be reporting a smaller drop in new job listings.
The freeze in hiring comes even as more than 140,000 firms applied for the government’s job retention scheme launched to prevent mass redundancies caused by the lockdown and protect the economy in the long term.
Official figures have highlighted a fall in earnings growth and job vacancies even in the run-up to the restrictions.
Businesses in the capital and the South East are also leading the way in creating new jobs, according to data from the employment agency REED.
The company also said on average that 80% of the jobs created in the UK since the epidemic began have been by healthcare firms, including government outsourcer Interserve, which is hiring staff to meet demands from the NHS for a temporary workforce at the network of hospitals set up to treat coronavirus patients.
Mr Kennedy added: “One glimmer of hope we are seeing is that the pace of decline in new roles appears to have eased over the past week, which hints at signs the jobs market may have bottomed out.”
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