Home Business News UK vacancies slump below 1 million for the first time since 2021 

UK vacancies slump below 1 million for the first time since 2021 

by LLB staff reporter
18th Dec 23 10:01 am

The number of job vacancies available in November dropped below 1 million for the first time this year – the lowest level they’ve been since May 2021, according to the UK Job Market Report by job search engine Adzuna.

Suggesting a significant dive in company confidence, advertised vacancies fell -2.72% between October and November to just 998,562 postings. This is a -8.55% decline compared to the same time last year and the first time during 2023 that the annual decline has worsened, month-on-month. October’s year-on-year figures were -5.08% down on 2022’s numbers.

While falling vacancies suggest a stalling in the UK’s jobs market, advertised salaries are on the rise again – for the first time since June. They were up +0.74% in November, compared to October’s figures, and up +1.82% compared to the same time last year, with November 2023 seeing average advertised salaries of £37,221.

2023: A mixed picture for job hunters

Looking at 2023 as a whole, jobseeker figures have remained broadly steady. The range of jobseekers has increased from 1.45 in May and June at its lowest to 1.56 jobseekers in November at its maximum. The UK’s unemployment rate continues to remain stable at 4.2%, which speaks to the subtle fluctuations seen in Adzuna’s jobseeker figures.

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After consistently growing throughout the first half of the year – reaching their highest levels since 2021 in June – advertised vacancies and salaries in the second half of 2023 have been more turbulent, hitting their lowest levels in November just five months since their peak.

At the highest level, there were 1,059,153 available vacancies with an average advertised salary of £37,806. By October, salaries had hit their lowest this year, dropping to £36,946, while vacancies slumped to their lowest point at 998,562 in November.

What’s more, salary transparency has also suffered in 2023. After a positive start, with 52.8% of jobs featuring advertised salaries in February, fewer than half of jobs advertised since July have disclosed a salary (48.95% on average). Thankfully, November bucked this trend when 50.5% of adverts listed compensation.

Salaries back on the up

With the overall average advertised salary increasing in November, with small increases in remuneration for nearly all sectors including Domestic Help & Cleaning (+0.84%), Hospitality & Catering (+0.9%) and Property (1.47%). Compared to November 2022, Social Work has experienced the biggest annual increase in advertised salaries, up +10.88% to £33,767. This was followed by Energy, Oil and Gas (+8.95% to £44,210) and Manufacturing (+8.11% to £29,160).

Yet the highest average salaries can be found in the Legal sector (£54,633, an increase of +6.94%), and IT (£51,284), despite the fact IT salaries are down -8.78% compared to November 2022.

On the other hand, salaries have been sluggish in HR & Recruitment, with advertised salaries down -6.6% to £38,122 in November, compared to the same time last year. Creative & Design is also down by -1.22% to an average of £38,288.

London continues to be the only region in the UK seeing annual declines in average advertised salaries, down -2.02% in November. After Wales experienced a fall in October, it saw slight growth last month, up +0.03%.

East Midlands saw the highest year-on-year growth in November, overtaking Northern Ireland and Yorkshire And The Humber which have been consistently two of the top regions for salary growth throughout 2023. This growth in the East Midlands has been driven by an increase in average salaries in Leicester, up +6.77% to £34,781.

Leeds has consistently been one of the top cities outside London for high salaries, however its place at the top of the charts is no longer guaranteed. Average advertised salaries fell -0.14% between October and November and have been declining continuously since May to the current rate of £38,397. The city has even been overtaken by the likes of Cambridge (£39,432), Oxford (£39,454) and Reading (£40,305) which all now offer the highest salaries outside of the capital.

Cambridge on top for jobseekers

For the past year, Cambridge has been the top city for those looking for a new role. On average, there have been 0.26 jobseekers for every job in the city, competing for around 9,000 jobs, though this has increased slightly in November to 0.28 jobseekers for 8,396 jobs.

Bradford continues to be one of the hardest places to find a job with some of the toughest competition. Throughout 2023, there have been around 5.77 jobseekers competing for around 3,000 available jobs.

Teaching dominated hiring, whilst graduate roles have suffered 

November saw the highest year-on-year increase in teaching roles, up +41.51% on November 2022. This is representative of the wider 2023 trends seen in the education sector. Teaching has been the largest recruiting sector on Adzuna throughout 2023. At its highest level, in June, there were 120,000 teaching vacancies, up +34.1% from June 2022. The average advertised salary also hit its highest in June, reaching £31,695.

Other sectors have experienced fluctuating demand in 2023. HR & Recruitment and Graduate recruiting, in particular, have had a difficult year. HR & Recruitment jobs have been consistently falling month on month since January when jobs fell -14.52% compared to the month before, with June the only month to post positive growth (+1.2%) In November, available jobs in HR & Recruitment were down by -42.5% compared to a year before.

Whilst in September, available graduate roles were at their lowest availability, with a total of 23,264 available roles, down over -32.13% compared to the year before. They’ve slowly increased to 25,504 in November, but still down -26.9% compared to last year.

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IT is another sector that has been hit by a slowdown in recruiting. Apart from June when monthly vacancies increased +0.11%, the IT sector has seen recruitment numbers drop consistently. In November, demand for IT jobs was -31.4% lower than in November 2022, yet it’s still the third-highest recruiting sector on Adzuna, with 86,7850 roles available, behind Engineering (88,294) and Teaching. This suggests that despite the slowdown in the tech industry, demand is still high for skilled digital and IT professionals.

On average, it takes 35.8 days to fill new roles, the highest it’s been for the past three months. Jobs in the Admin sector take 31.9 days on average to fill, whilst it’s 32.9 for both Property and Social Work. Energy, Oil and Gas jobs take up to 42.6 days on average to fill and this sector has the smallest number of available roles (2,841) in November, speaking to the speciality of the skills needed.

Warehouse work is number one for job hunters 

For the past six months, warehouse work has been the top trending job on Adzuna’s Intelligence Portal. 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.

Lorry driving roles also came second during the past six months, whilst Social Care Worker has also ranked highly on search on Adzuna throughout the year.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said, “The UK jobs market has gone through a turbulent year in 2023. From the highest availability of jobs and advertised salaries since 2021, advertised jobs have fallen to less than 1 million, the lowest level we’ve experienced for over two and a half years.

“Competition is growing across sectors, making it harder for UK job hunters to find the right roles for them, particularly as sectors tighten their belts.

“Salaries appear to be rising again yet with one of the worst years on record for salary transparency, it’s still difficult for potential recruits to understand compensation for the roles they’re applying for. As we head into 2024, finding a job will likely stay tough for the first part of the year.”

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