From education to employment

1.8m active job ads suggest “soft landing” likely for labour market – REC

person working on computer
  • The number of active postings in February 2024 was 1,873,386, substantially lower than a year ago (2.5m) but still well ahead of the equivalent figure for February 2020 (1.57m).
  • There were 810,651 new job postings in February 2024 – a 5.5% fall from the month before.
  • In February 2024 four of the top ten counties with the highest postings were in Yorkshire and the Humber. There was a 12.2% increase in active job postings in February 2024 here when compared to January 2024.
  • Across the UK, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham (+28.2%), York (+23.8%) and Belfast (22.8%) had the highest growth in job postings when compared to January 2024.

Midway through the first quarter of the year the number of active job postings is settling at around 1.8 million, according to the latest Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast Labour Market Tracker. This represents a robust position – but weaker than the trend we have seen over the past three years.

There were more than 1.8m active job postings in the UK, with more than 810,000 new job postings, in February 2024. Continued labour shortages driven by a smaller active workforce, skills shortages in sectors like engineering and fast changes in consumer markets are key drivers of this. The 1.8m active job postings – around the number of people who live in Northern Ireland – is a remarkable position for a time where the economy has been in recession.

A graph with blue line and numbers  Description automatically generated

REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said:

“It’s clear that the jobs market has slowed with the economy over the past year, and today’s figures reflect that. But the level of hiring activity is more resilient than would be expected at a time like this, driven by the UK’s tight labour supply, and forward-looking indicators of rising business confidence.

“For companies, this is a timely reminder that hiring is likely to remain challenging, especially as growth picks up. A strong partnership with professional recruiters, using the principles in the REC’s new Aim Hire guide will be essential.

“Governments really need to focus on a workforce strategy that will open up growth and prosperity – yet too many politicians are ducking the issue. Talking about boosting GDP per capita is all very well, but it requires reforms to skills policies, taxation, regulation and infrastructure that have been overlooked in this Parliament. We could unlock £39bn of growth annually just by taking this challenge on.”

Overall, when looking at the government region statistics we can see that the number of active job postings in Scotland grew by 1.2%, whilst this is positive the rate is lower than the UK-wide figure. And six of the bottom ten areas with the lowest growth were in Scotland. This is similar to the previous month and suggests that private sector investment and growth should be a priority for Holyrood this spring.

Occupations with notable increases in adverts in February 2024 include Authors, Writers and Translators (+67.5%), Window Cleaners (+38.1%), and Clothing, Fashion and Accessories Designers (+28.2%).

There was also growing demand for Driving Instructors (+27.4%), Gardeners and Landscape Gardeners (+26.0%) and Data Entry Administrators (+24.9%).

Delivery Drivers and Couriers (-21.6%), Optometrists (23.5%) and Prison Service Officers (Below Principal Officer) (39.6%) all showed the largest decline in roles from January 2024 to February 2024.

Across the UK, North and North East Lincolnshire (18.6%), Wakefield (16.9%) and Hackney and Newham (16.5%) had among the highest growth in job postings when compared to January 2024.

Causeway Coast and Glens (-6.0%), Moray (-7.3%) and Orkney Islands (-28.3%) all accounted for the sharpest decline in job postings.

When looking at the top ten counties/unitary authorities for growth in active job postings, four were based in Yorkshire and Humber.

Related Articles