Jobs Recovery Tracker: Job advert numbers stable as lockdown starts to ease

  • 137,000 new job adverts posted in the first week of March, giving a total of 1.33 million active job adverts in the UK
  • Weekly number of new postings has remained stable through lockdown, and at a significantly higher level than spring 2020
  • Significant growth in adverts for home improvement job such as roofers, plasterers, gardeners and painter-decorators
  • Notable rise in job adverts in Dunbartonshire, Isle of Wight and West Northants
  • London’s jobs market continues to struggle, with a 15% drop in new postings and notable falls in active postings in Redbridge & Waltham Forest and Brent

There were 137,000 new job adverts posted online in the first week of March, totalling to 1.33 million active job adverts in the UK, according to the REC’s latest Jobs Recovery Tracker.

The number of new job postings remained broadly stable throughout the most recent lockdown, as companies wait out restrictions. But it is noteworthy that new postings are at a much higher level than during the first lockdown – there were 52% more new job adverts posted in the first week of March 2021 than in the first week of April 2020, and 31% more than in the first week of July 2020. With lockdown measures beginning to ease, we would expect to see further growth in new postings in the coming months.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“These new job advert figures show just how resilient the labour market has been through this lockdown, and are a good reminder that we are in a much better place than at the height of the pandemic. We should start to see hiring activity bounce back in the coming months as more people are vaccinated and restrictions are lifted. Recruiters tell me that hiring is strong for experienced professionals who can be onboarded from home, and for those businesses – like construction firms – where workplaces are open. It’s also encouraging to see sectors like leisure and retail starting to prepare to re-open.

“As restrictions ease, we expect to see increased hiring for staff who need more support in their first few months, like early career workers. Progress on the government’s roadmap will help boost hiring for this group – and help our major cities catch up. Some regions of the UK, particularly London, are still struggling. The gradual easing of lockdown should help to grow the economy, but businesses and workers will need help getting back on their feet. Focusing support on helping workers transition to growing areas. For instance a radical reform to the apprenticeship levy would help workers, including those in temporary roles, to benefit from training and fill the skills needs in the economy.”

With the housing market booming and measures announced in last week’s Budget to boost it further, there was significant growth in job adverts for home improvement roles. The top four occupations for growth in active job postings were all related to this sector. There was a 39.9% rise in adverts for roofers week-on-week, as well as notable growth in demand for plasterers (+32.6%), gardeners (+30.8%) and painters and decorators (+30.1%).

There are also signs that sectors like leisure and retail are gearing up to re-open after lockdown. There were also smaller increases in job postings for merchandisers and window dressers (+10.6%) as well as sports and leisure assistants (+7.6%). In England’s plan for easing lockdown, outdoor sports facilities are due to reopen at the end of March while retail shops open again on 12 April. This could indicate that both sectors are starting to increase hiring activity in preparation for those dates.

In the first week of March, Wales and most regions of England saw a small rise in job postings. In terms of broader regions, the highest growth was in the East Midlands (+1.8%), but more locally East and West Dunbartonshire were hiring hotspots (+12.6% and +6.7%, respectively). The Isle of Wight also saw strong week-on-week growth (+8.5%).

However, Scotland as a whole saw a small decrease in active job postings (-0.7%), while the biggest drop in adverts was in London (-1.4%) as the capital’s jobs market continued to struggle with the effects of lockdown. Two of the local areas with the biggest falls in active job adverts were Redbridge & Waltham Forest (-7.3%) and Brent (-6.4%). Worryingly, there was also a 15.3% drop in the number of new job adverts posted in London, compared to the previous week.

Matthew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi said:

“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the UK jobs market and it’s encouraging to see some new parts of the economy re-igniting. Notably we’ve spotted ‘Checkatrade’ as being very active nationally with more new postings over the last week than the NHS.

“The data also seems to indicate the hospitality sector is potentially starting to gear up for re-opening – and whilst demand volumes are still relatively low, in percentage growth terms this looks significant and is hopefully a sign of things to come.”