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Active job postings above two million despite economic uncertainty – REC

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  • The number of active postings in the week of 29 May-4 June 2023 was 2,031,765 – a 2.4% decrease compared to the previous week (22-28 May).
  • Notable increases in adverts for jobs in occupations include market research interviewers (+68.9%), water and sewerage plant operatives (+14.9%), and postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers (+9%).
  • In the week of 29 May-4 June 2023 only seven local areas in the UK saw growth in active job postings.
  • Five out of the UK’s bottom ten hiring areas were in Greater London.

There are more than two million active job ads in the UK despite caution among employers, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast’s latest Labour Market Tracker.

The number of active postings in the week of 29 May-4 June was 2,031,765 – a 2.4% decrease compared to the previous week (22-28 May). But this still reflects a big increase on this time last year (1,496,157). Some of this reflects the sustained high level of demand in the market – but some of it will be a response to shortages, as firms leave adverts open for longer than normal. 

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“Even if there are some signs of caution from employers in the face of economic uncertainty, shortages mean many firms are still hiring – and taking longer to do so. That is why we see so many live job adverts today by comparison to last year. These figures emphasise again how important it is that businesses get their talent strategy right by working effectively with skilled recruiters. From flexibility to pay, making sure your business is competitive matters. Later in the year, the REC will be publishing new work to help firms do this.

“The weekly data both this year and last year has been affected by extra bank holidays, so a clearer trend will emerge during June. It will be interesting to see how any slight pullback from cautious employers will impact on job seekers now used to pushing for better pay, more training and quick hiring decisions – and flexibility once in post. For government, the shortage of labour is now a key driver of pay rises, and so feeds the inflation challenge – addressing shortages will not only help the economy grow, it will also help us achieve a more sustainable path on prices and incomes. That starts with action on skills and immigration, but also speeding steps on childcare, transport and back-to-work support, as set out in the REC’s Overcoming Shortages report.

“It is disappointing to see a fall in some construction-related roles, reflecting weaker data earlier this week. These are only marginal declines, however, and there is no dramatic decline in job adverts for everyday roles such as chefs with hospitality growth a critical part of our economy’s performance over the past few months. There are still nearly 28,000 vacancies for chefs and 32,000 for accountants and more than 68,000 jobs for nurses, as healthcare demand remains the strongest sector of all.”

There were 179,395 new job postings in the week of 29 May-4 June 2023 – 17.3% lower compared to the week before (22-28 May) and 12.1% lower than the year before (30 May-5 June 2022). We caution against drawing too many comparisons from this data because there was a bank holiday on 29 May 2023 and there was a four-day UK bank holiday weekend on 2 June to 5 June 2022. Shorter weeks can mean activity that would have taken place on the bank holiday day moves to a different week.

Occupations with notable increases in job adverts in the week of 29 May-4 June compared to the previous week (22-28 May) includemarket research interviewers (+68.9%), water and sewerage plant operatives (+14.9%), and postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers (+9%). Moulders, core makers and die casters (+8.3%), vehicle paint technicians (+4%), andair-conditioning and refrigeration engineers (+4%) roles also saw high growth.

On the other hand, dispensing opticians (-15%), podiatrists (-12.9%), parking and civil enforcement occupations (-10%), hospital porters (-9.1%), and solicitors (-8.8%) saw the biggest weekly decline in job adverts.

On local areas, East Lothian and Midlothian (4.6%), Enfield (3.2%), Berkshire (3%), Conwy and Denbighshire (1.7%), and Southend-on-Sea (1.1%) saw notable increases in job adverts. Only seven areas saw growth in job adverts.

At the other end of the scale, East Dunbartonshire (-7.8%), Derry City and Strabane (-7.7%), Haringey and Islington (-7.5%), Na h-Eileanan Siar (-7%), and Camden and City of London (-6.2%) accounted for the lowest growth in job adverts.

Elena Magrini, Head of Global Research, Lightcast, said:

“In its June labour market review, the Office for National Statistics showed that there had been a fall of 79,000 in the number of estimated number of job vacancies between March and May 2023. This downward trend in vacancies appears to be reflected in our latest job postings data, which shows a decrease of 2.4% in the number of active postings in the week 29 May-4 June 2023.

“Although the number of postings is still far higher than this time last year, the emerging picture seems to be one of a jobs market that is cooling, with the number of vacancies and online job adverts both declining. However, the numbers still suggest there are many businesses that are finding it hard to fill the roles they have with the talent they need.”

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