In the UK in April, small businesses with one to nine employees had 2,100 fewer job vacancies compared to the previous official benchmark of 150,000 in March’s Vacancy Survey, published by the Office for National Statistics.
That’s a monthly decrease of -1.42% to 147,900 job vacancies — a smaller decrease than in March, when the Index predicted a drop of -4.98%.
The number of small business job vacancies fell in every sector. Sectors with the largest decreases were:
- Information and communication (SIC J) — such as book publishers, newspapers, and journals — with a drop of -3.12% to 5,400 job vacancies
- Wholesale and retail trades (SIC G) — such as textile wholesalers, home furnishing stores, and hardware stores — with a drop of -2.90% to 18,700 job vacancies
- Administrative and support service activities (SIC N) — such as travel agencies, cleaning services, and landscape companies — with a drop of -2.54% to 1,600 job vacancies
Sectors with the smallest decreases in small business job vacancies were:
- Real estate (SIC L) — including real estate agencies and management services — with a drop of -0.48% to 5,800 job vacancies
- Construction (SIC F) — including roofing companies and demolition services — with a drop of -1.07% to 900 job vacancies
- Transport and storage (SIC H) — such as taxi companies and railway support services — with a drop of -1.32% to 10,200 job vacancies.
Regionally, Scotland had the largest decrease in the UK, with a drop of -2.58% to 9,000 small business job vacancies. Wales had the smallest decrease, down by -0.85% to 5,200 job vacancies.
Ufuk Akcigit, the Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, said: “The UK economy has been struggling with various macroeconomic problems, including the inflationary pressures due to high energy and food prices.
“The chief economist of the Bank of England has also raised concerns about secondary effects such as wage increases, hence the inflation rate has been higher and the disinflationary process has been slower than the US and Canada. Consistent with these macro-level observations, the UK vacancy numbers have experienced a significant drop of -1.42% in April, a continued decline since February 2022.
“While the job vacancies are still above the pre-pandemic levels, they have lost most of the gain that was generated between the dip in June 2020 and the peak in February 2022. Since job vacancies are correlated with hunger for economic activity, these negative numbers can potentially be interpreted as a contraction in small business activities.
“The decline in April was led by Scotland (-2.58%) at the regional level and “Information and Communication” (-3.12%) at the sectoral levels. Unfortunately the decline was across all the regions and sectors with heterogeneous magnitudes. The mildest declines were observed in Wales (-0.85%) and “Real Estate” (-0.48%).
“The expectations about the near future of the UK economy are still bleak and the smallest businesses are the first ones to be affected by the adverse conditions. Therefore, it makes it even more essential to monitor small business activities in the UK and Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index can provide valuable insights during these turbulent times.”