Market cools

Job vacancies fall below 1m but salaries still rising

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Job vacancies are cooling

Job vacancies across the UK have dipped below 1 million for the first time since May 2021, indicating that the labour market is cooling off.

Advertised openings fell 2.72% between October and November to just 998,562 postings from the 1.02 million job postings in October, according to job search engine Adzuna.

This is an 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.  

Demand for workers has fallen as the economy has weakened and companies have responded by tightening their hiring policies, though there is also evidence elsewhere of the advance of AI into the jobs market which is replacing some human tasks.

GDP figures for October showed growth unexpectedly fall 0.3%, with some economists saying the UK could still slip into recession.

Despite the slowdown in vacancies, unemployment remains low, rising only slightly to 4.2%. The Office for National Statistics says vacancies have contracted for 17 months in a row but are still far above their pre-pandemic level of just under 1 million.

Adzuna’s data suggests that demand for workers will be softer in 2024 and unemployment will climb.

It said that advertised salaries rose for the first time since June, up 0.74% to an average of £37,221 and down from their 2023 peak of £37,806.

Lawyers command the highest potential pay, with average advertised salaries in the sector at £54,633, followed by IT workers, who are offered an average of £51,284.

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). 

As vacancies have fallen, advertised salaries have been sluggish in HR & Recruitment, 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. 

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 London.

For the past six months, warehouse work has been the top trending job on Adzuna’s Intelligence Portal. Lorry driving roles came second during the past six months, whilst social care worker has also ranked highly. 

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “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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