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The winners and losers of the 2019 job market

The job market remains sluggish as we approach the end of the year. Job vacancies remain below one million for the third month in a row, as job vacancies record an 11.1% annual drop. While we expect to see a slump in vacancies as we enter the typically quiet winter period, the sustained drop in advertised vacancies sparks concern for the job market. 

The downfall in vacancies is prominent across the UK and has hit Northern Ireland the hardest this month. Despite unemployment levels hitting record lows, Northern Ireland is the biggest casualty in the job market with a 29% drop in vacancies. This is not expected to recover immediately as Brexit uncertainty continues to unsettle the region. The North East and the East also see a significant downfall in vacancies (-19.6% and -14.9% respectively). The typically resilient Yorkshire and Humber also records a 4% decline in vacancies this month. The drop is likely to be short-lived, as the region announces investment from various companies, including North-East builders’, which is set to create 150 new jobs alone.


Average salaries have remained relatively stable throughout the year at £34,728 (+3.1% year on year), double the current rate of inflation (+1.5%). Bradford has seen the biggest growth in advertised salaries of any major city, with a 3.6% increase this year. Our latest findings show that Northern cities performed well across the board, with five out of the six high-growth salary cities located within the north of the UK. Whilst Leeds (-0.74%) and Manchester (-0.12%) each saw a slight decline; they still outpaced the capital where salaries fell by 0.76%.  This growth follows significant investment in the north of England, with the UK Government funding several Yorkshire projects with up to £30m, in order to increase the amount of housing available. 

For southern cities, Bristol saw the biggest decline with a huge decrease of -5.1%, more than six times bigger than the national average (-0.8%). Market confidence in the southwest city has been unsteady throughout the year, with companies like Aviva, Tesco and GKN all making job cuts this year. In the capital, whilst average salaries are naturally higher than anywhere else, the level of growth is among the lowest compared to other major cities.


The Manufacturing industry continues to lose a significant amount of advertised vacancies year on year as factory output continues to drop (-27%). The downfall is widespread and has affected industries across the board, including creative jobs (-13%) and retail (-13%).

The recent election should provide some stability to what has been unsettled year. It will hopefully provide an important boost to key industries. There are a number of industries that have already defied the job market slump and continue to grow. The travel sector has seen sustained growth throughout the year, despite the closure of Thomas Cook earlier in the year.. Sales vacancies have also seen a significant uplift, as companies open up vacancies and look for ways. The number of live vacancies in sales has risen from 46,804 in November 2018, to 74,911 in November 2019.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of job search engine Adzuna, commented:

“The job market has lost over one in ten jobs year on year and remains relatively unsettled. We are looking at the lowest level of vacancies since 2015, as business owners remain reluctant to invest in staff while the political landscape remains so turbulent. However, there are some positives to take out of the UK job market and many reasons to remain optimistic for the year ahead. Salaries still push above the rate of inflation and stand at almost £35k.

We have also seen a number of key industries defy the job market slump and make headway for an optimistic 2020. Contrary to popular belief, the UK travel industry is riding the Brexit wave with confidence. Despite major setbacks during 2019, the sector is showing real promise for the year ahead and will certainly be one to watch, as companies look to capitalise on the nation’s growing spend on holidays, which outpaces all other categories in the leisure market. The challenge for the travel industry this year will be continuing to navigate an uncertain future brought on by ongoing Brexit conversations, whilst retaining a talent pool that has a lack of confidence following major closures in 2019.


2019 Job Market Winners and Losers - Adzuna
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