Coronavirus: UK vacancies plummet by 50% as firms freeze hiring

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Job vacancies have plummeted. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

The number of vacancies in Britain has more than halved on a leading jobs site during the coronavirus crisis, new figures show.

Data from Adzuna lays bare the dramatic fall-off in recruitment in the UK as firms have slashed costs and frozen hiring while the lockdown has paralysed the economy.

The figures suggest UK unemployment could continue to rise, with a shrinking pool of opportunities for workers who have been made redundant, seen self-employment income dry up or are job-hunting after leaving school or university.

Unemployment has already risen with more than 1.5 million universal credit claims in recent weeks, but the government’s ‘furlough’ scheme is widely seen to have prevented millions of job losses in the short-term.

At least four million UK workers at risk of redundancy have been put on paid temporary leave subsidised through the UK government scheme, with uncertainty over their long-term fate.

Adzuna vacancy figures. (Adzuna)

The data from Adzuna looks at average weekly vacancies over the past 10 weeks as the coronavirus has spread throughout the UK, comparing it with the weekly average from the previous seven weeks.

The figures published on Wednesday show a 51% drop in job adverts on the site in the past 10 weeks, the biggest drop since Adzuna began collecting figures eight years ago.

Hospitality and catering saw the biggest collapse in hiring (down 82%), with jobs for graduates (down 71%), in property (down 70%), construction (down 67%), and travel (down 57%) also facing large declines.

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Adzuna suggests recruitment has suffered more in Britain than several other large economies, with the decline steeper than in the US, Australia and Canada. Some analysts put this down to its larger services industry, as the sector has been particularly hard-hit by lockdowns and social distancing regulations.

The downturn shows few signs of easing, with 40,000 fewer jobs this Monday than last week advertised on Adzuna. Searches for remote and online work meanwhile have soared however, up more than 10 times since the crisis began.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “Key sectors in the UK job market have taken another hit this week after the government announced an additional three weeks of lockdown to control the spread of the virus. 

“The UK has now lost over half of all advertised positions across the country and is showing little sign of recovery, as economic uncertainty continues to grow and job security continues to fall.”