Home Business News Job hunters face turbulent 2024 with vacancies falling and unemployment rising in March

Job hunters face turbulent 2024 with vacancies falling and unemployment rising in March

by LLB staff reporter
29th Apr 24 12:04 pm

2024 continues to be a turbulent year for UK job hunters with advertised vacancies falling again to 862,294, down -0.46% monthly in March 2024 and -17.41% annually, according to the latest UK Job Market Report by job search engine Adzuna.

This fifth consecutive monthly decline comes as the number of people out of work recently rose to 4.2%, the highest recorded in six months.

As a result, there are now 1.87 jobseekers per vacancy, up from 1.49 last year and the highest figures since August 2021.

Jobs across PR, Advertising & Marketing were hit hardest, dropping by -11.09% in the past month, as companies are scaling back marketing spend.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of a prolonged housebuilding slump, Trade & Construction vacancies fell by -8.24%. This has left overall job figures down -17.41% compared to the same time last year.

That said, significant increases in several fast-growing sectors are helping to lessen the blow and mask these declines somewhat. Travel roles, for example, were up +16.27% in March, while Manufacturing vacancies rose by +6.09%, following news that companies such as Aston Martin are creating new manufacturing roles across the country – both lifting the month-on-month average.

At the same time, the average advertised salaries continue to rise, up +0.41% in March to £38,638, and up +2.95% annually. This is to be expected with wages often lagging behind labour market slack. However, there are early signs that wage growth is easing, as March’s annual growth isn’t as rapid as in February 2024 (+3.01%). This is good news for borrowers who are anticipating the Bank of England to cut interest rates later this year.

On the back of the modest increase in advertised salaries, transparency has equalised too. In March, 50% of job ads included salary details, while 50% did not.

Travel and Manufacturing offset falls in the majority of sectors 

Over a third of sectors tracked by Adzuna saw an increase in vacancies in March 2024, compared to February 2024. In addition to the rises seen in Travel (+16.27%) and Manufacturing (+6.09%), Maintenance roles and Customer Services positions rose by +4.65% and +3.01% respectively.

Conversely, joining the PR, Advertising & Marketing (-11.09%), Graduate positions experienced a decline (-8.5%), followed by Trade & Construction (-8.24%), and Energy, Oil & Gas positions (-6.45%).

Year-on-year, Travel (+14.77%) and Teaching (+0.83%) were the only two sectors to see vacancies increase annually in March. Meanwhile the steepest annual declines were across Domestic Help & Cleaning (-46.13%) and Trade & Construction (-43.9%).

Given the overall rise in advertised salaries, most sectors also experienced monthly salary increases. Energy, Oil & Gas saw the largest monthly increase, +3.87%, as well as the largest annual increase, up +20.4%. Retail (+2.5%) and Social Work (+1.83%) also experienced monthly growth.

The biggest fall in monthly salary was in Travel, (-3.74%) – likely due to an increase in the range of roles at different levels. Legal (-0.51%), Property (-0.38%), Charity and Voluntary (-0.35%), and Trade & Construction (-0.11%) also saw monthly falls in salaries. On a more positive note, year over year, almost all sectors experienced a rise in advertised salaries, with Energy, Oil & Gas (+20.4%), Social work (+12.33%), and Manufacturing (+9.3%) leading the way. IT was the only sector to experience an annual fall in advertised salaries (-6.16%).

It now takes companies 35.6 days to fill roles on average, down from 36.6 days last month. Teaching continues to be the sector with the shortest time to fill, at 31.7 days, followed by Admin, at 33.1 days. Meanwhile, Legal is the hardest to fill at 40.7 days.

For the fourth month running, the East Midlands is the fastest growing region for annual salary increases, up +6.48% to £35,940, compared to last year’s £33,754. Eastern England continues to post annual strong growth, up +5.71% to £37,387.

London’s advertised salaries continue to grow, too, up +1.92% this month following months of decline. Similarly, Northern Ireland appears to be bouncing back. Last month it was at the bottom of the table with +0.56% annual growth but this has since increased to +1.58%.

Cambridge is top for jobseekers in March 

For job hunters, the best cities to look for roles are Cambridge, Guildford and Exeter – the same three cities as last month. Cambridge has 7,449 vacancies and around 0.33 jobseekers for every role.

Bradford continues to be the most difficult city to find work, with 20,180 jobseekers competing for 2,624 jobs, which means there are around 7.69 jobseekers per role. This is followed by Rochdale (5.21) and Middlesbrough (4.12).

Job hunters seeking out warehouse work

Warehouse work has been the highest-trending job on Adzuna’s Intelligence Portal for almost a year, having spent 10 months at the top of the list. This metric tracks demand for a wide range of occupations and designates an Interest Quotient for each role. The higher the quotient, the more in demand those roles are among Adzuna jobseekers. Healthcare Support work was the second most searched-for role, the same as in January and February, followed by Administrator roles.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “This new data continues to paint a difficult picture for job hunters in 2024. Vacancies have fallen again in March, unemployment is up and competition for open roles is intensifying across most sectors.

“The outlook remains poor too – Adzuna’s data, collected month-to-date in April, suggests no clear signs of a hiring recovery just yet. The rise in salaries is expected, with wages often lagging behind labour market slack so these figures will likely embolden the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee to begin cutting interest rates this summer.”

Tony Wilson, Director at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “On the face of it, lower vacancies and higher unemployment points to a bit more ‘slack’ in the labour market than we have been used to in the last few years.

However, it’s worth noting that underneath the headlines, unemployment is being pushed up by more people who have been out of work for a year or longer, many of whom will need more and better support to get back into work. And while vacancies are continuing to drift down, there’s still well over 800,000 unfilled jobs in the economy – which is holding back economic growth and living standards.

“So it remains the case that we need to do a lot more to boost labour supply, by reaching and helping people out of work who want a job, and not just rely on higher interest rates to dampen demand.”

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