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UK job market showing first signs of recovery

After enduring some of the most substantial declines in live vacancies since the pre-pandemic era, the UK job market appears to be showing signs of a turnaround.

According to the latest UK Job Market Report by job search engine Adzuna, February witnessed 866,242 advertised job vacancies, registering a mere -0.14 percent drop compared to January.

This marginal decline indicates a potential stabilisation in the job market, fueled notably by a rise in monthly job openings in sectors such as Travel (+7.48%) and Maintenance (+6.64%).

This shift marks the first glimpse of a steadying trend after several months of pronounced decreases, including a -6.64 percent plunge in vacancies between December and January, and a -6.95 percent drop between November and December.

VACANCIES STILL LAG BEHIND LAST YEAR’S FIGURES

Prospective job seekers may find some relief in witnessing a month of improving job data following a sharp reduction in available vacancies towards the end of 2023. However, despite this slight improvement, vacancies still lag behind last year’s figures by -15.11 percent. This has led to increased competition for available roles, with 1.86 job seekers vying for each vacancy, marking the highest level since August 2021.

Meanwhile, the average advertised salary across the UK has reached £38,478, marking a monthly increase of +0.81 percent since January. On an annual basis, salaries have seen a notable uptick of +3.01 percent, underlining the challenge faced by companies in securing highly skilled talent for specialised, higher-paying positions. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey recently suggested that the UK is ‘at, or near, full employment,’ further highlighting the competitive landscape.

In terms of salary transparency, February saw a positive shift, with over 50 percent of roles advertised on Adzuna featuring a salary, compared to 49.3 percent without one. This marks the highest level of salary transparency in the UK since May 2023.

POSITIVE VACANCY AND SALARY INCREASES ACROSS VARIOUS SECTORS

Several sectors witnessed positive job increases month-on-month in February, including Graduate (+5.3%) and Property (+5.17%), alongside Travel and Maintenance. However, some sectors still experienced monthly declines in job postings, such as Retail (-9.49%), Domestic Help & Cleaning (-7%), and Hospitality & Catering (-5.01%).

While most job sectors have seen a decrease in postings annually, the pace of decline seems to be slowing. For instance, Graduate roles have fallen by -30.2 percent annually, compared to a steeper decline in previous months. Retail continued to be the sector with the highest advertised salary increase month-on-month, up +2.63 percent in February, reflecting efforts by retailers to retain workers.

REGIONAL TRENDS AND ADVERTISED SALARIES

In terms of regional trends, the East Midlands remained the top region for the third consecutive month, with average advertised salaries increasing by +6.45 percent compared to the same period last year. London experienced a +1.86 percent increase in advertised salaries, marking the second consecutive month of positive growth.

CAMBRIDGE TOPS CITY RANKINGS FOR JOB HUNTERS

Cambridge retained its position as the best city for job hunters for another month, with only 0.33 job seekers competing for available roles. Conversely, Bradford continues to be one of the hardest cities to find a job, with 7.26 job seekers per 2,643 vacancies.

WAREHOUSE WORK AND HEALTHCARE SUPPORT IN DEMAND

Warehouse work remained the top trending job for the ninth consecutive month, followed by Healthcare Support work. Social Care work also continued to be in demand.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, commented on the current state of the UK job market, noting the tightening competition for roles alongside record-high average salaries. He also highlighted potential future impacts, including changes to child benefits and childcare reforms, which may influence workforce dynamics in the coming months.

Adzuna’s monthly UK Job Market Report provides a comprehensive snapshot of employment opportunities across the country, based on data from over 1,000 sources. The report serves as a valuable resource for policymakers and analysts seeking insights into the UK labour market dynamics.

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