Home Business News UK job vacancies fall 15% compared to 2023

UK job vacancies fall 15% compared to 2023

by LLB staff reporter
26th Feb 24 10:54 am

Job vacancies in the UK have fallen below 900,000 for the first time since April 2021 as companies continue to slow down hiring plans.

According to the UK Job Market Report by job search engine Adzuna, monthly job vacancies fell to 867,436 in January 2024. This represents both a year-on-year decline of -14.62%, compared to January 2023, and a month-on-month drop of -6.64% compared to December.

The contraction in vacancies means that competition for those posts available is increasing, up to 1.81 jobseekers per vacancy from 1.68 a month earlier.

This is the highest competition rate since August 2021, the last time there was 1.81 people for every available role.

Companies are also taking longer to make decisions about new team members, perhaps in response to the reduction in hiring budgets. Advertised vacancies are live on average for 36.6 days before they are filled, the longest time-to-fill since January 2023.

It’s not all negative, though. The monthly drop in vacancies between December 2023 and January 2024 wasn’t quite as sharp as the -6.95% decline seen in the final months of last year. Early indications of February’s data show that there is likely to be stabilisation in advertised vacancies, with figures expected to rise between 0% and +2% next month, indicating that positive growth is around the corner.

Average advertised salaries also increased again in January, continuing the upward trajectory seen in December. National salaries were up +1.57% monthly to £38,168 last month, +2.99% higher than in January 2023, the highest they’ve been since March 2021. Regional salaries are picking up too, while London has experienced an increase in salaries for the first time since November 2022.

However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to track average salaries in the UK, with over half of positions (51.5%) advertised without salaries, in a continued blow to salary transparency campaigners.

Falling hiring sector-wide

Every single one of the 26 sectors tracked by Adzuna experienced a monthly fall in hiring in January 2024, including Teaching, the only job sector to post positive growth last month, which saw a -5.88% drop. The smallest declines were experienced by PR, Advertising and Marketing (-2.79%) and Energy, Oil and Gas (-3.4%), compared to December 2023, whilst the biggest decrease was in Manufacturing (-17.99%).

On an annual basis, however, Teaching continued to be the only sector to record growth in vacancies, with roles up +22.47% compared to January 2023. The smallest annual fall in roles was in Travel (-8.81%) and Engineering (-8.83%), whilst the biggest annual decrease was in Domestic Help and Cleaning, with the industry nearly halving (-44.58%).

As with the general trend seen with salaries last month, the majority of industries saw an increase in average advertised salaries on both a monthly and annual basis. Salaries for Retail roles increased +3.46% compared to December, while Admin salaries rose +2.26%. The biggest annual increases in salaries were for Energy, Oil and Gas (+14.6%) and Travel (13.64%).

Only three sectors experienced a slight fall in salary month-on-month: PR, Advertising and Marketing (-0.19%), Graduate (-0.5%) and Consultancy (-0.56%), and only two  sectors saw an annual drop: IT (-8.14%) and HR and Recruitment (-2.09%).

After years of steady regional salary declines, average advertised annual salaries in London rose by +1.23% to £44,399 in January – the first increase since November 2022. East Midlands came top for the second month in a row in January with the highest annual growth in salaries (+7.68%), followed by Eastern England (+5.4%). Northern Ireland has slumped further down the table, experiencing +2.09% annual growth in January, down from the +2.81% the month before.

Competition increasing nationwide for jobseekers

As vacancies continue to fall, the competition for jobs is increasing. Yet in certain cities across the UK –  Cambridge (0.3 jobseekers per available roles), Oxford (0.7) and Reading (0.79)- there continues to be a surplus number of jobs compared to jobseekers.

In cities where there are more jobseekers than available roles such as Bradford (7.17), Birmingham (3.9) and Sunderland (3.3), competition is continuing to rise, making it harder for those looking to find suitable work.

Healthcare support work rising in demand

Warehouse work continues to be the top trending job on Adzuna’s Intelligence Portal for the eighth month in a row. 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.

For the past few months Lorry Driving roles have come second, yet this month it has slumped to ninth place, following a -35.9% fall in advertised vacancies.

This role is driven by seasonal trends, often peaking between October to December ahead of Christmas hiring, so it’s not unusual for available roles to fall after this point. However, annual hiring is down -53.3% compared to January 2023, suggesting a slower start to 2024 which may explain why there is less demand from job hunters for this role.

Healthcare Support work has risen to second position, meanwhile, Social Care work continues to be the third-most trending job.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “As we predicted last month, January 2024 has proven to be one of the most difficult starts to the year for job hunters in recent years with companies continuing to put hiring plans on ice.

“This will be disappointing for those hunting for work and only serves to drive up competition nationwide for available roles. However, it was positive to see in the most recent ONS data for October to December 2023 that unemployment has fallen again to 3.8% and over 400,000 more people have been added to payrolls.

“Early data from February also suggests we may have turned a corner, with job vacancies predicted to rise next month. Those that are successful in gaining new employment could also enjoy a higher salary with average advertised salaries continuing to rise monthly and annually.

“If inflation continues to trend down and the cost of living crisis lessens, jobseekers can remain optimistic that the poor start to the year will quickly reverse.”

Tony Wilson, Director at Institute for Employment Studies, said: “Adzuna’s latest data paints a pretty mixed picture for the labour market at the start of the year.

“The seasonal fall in vacancies in December has continued through January, but very strong growth in salaries and some of the changes by sector suggest that this may be being driven as much by changes in demand as it is by any further weakening in the economy. In other words, it looks like we’re seeing fewer lower-paid jobs and more high paid jobs being advertised, which has pushed average salaries to pretty much their highest on record.

“With a bit more competition for jobs too, this is arguably good news overall, but it reiterates the need for us to do much better at helping people to fill these better-paid jobs if we want to grow our way out of this recession and bounce back strongly this year.”

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