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UK hiring to be back to ‘normal’ as early as January 2021

After a dreadful spring and summer for the UK job market, here at Adzuna HQ we’re beginning to see a sustained recovery in hiring. So we took a moment to crunch the numbers, asking “When will hiring return to ‘normal’ in the UK?” and “What will the new ‘normal’ look like?”

UK hiring activity currently sits at 31% of pre-pandemic levels, so we’re still missing over 250,000 jobs in the UK. But that’s up from -68% in April, meaning considerable progress has been made. If the jobs comeback continues at this rate, we could see ‘normal’ levels of recruitment as early as January 2021.

However, the resurgence in job ads is likely to be offset by rising unemployment. The Bank of England forecasts unemployment to hit 7.5% by end of the year, which would mean a near doubling of the unemployment rate. See the graph below for our projection of hiring activity over the next few months.

Projection Methodology   
The year-to-date UK vacancies for 2020 were processed by an exponential smoothing algorithm, which produced a 15-week forecast. The predicted values are a statistical continuation of the historical data and include confidence bands for the predictions at each point in time. The model does not predict or attempt to account for externalities such as changes to government policy, but instead relies solely on the historic data.


Regional Overview: 

There’s also significant variation across different regions and sectors. London has seen the slowest rate of recovery (-51%), while the North East (-15%), East Midlands (-16%) and the South West (-17%) have seen sustained hiring growth since May.


 Jan 2020 VacanciesMay 2020 VacanciesOct 2020 vacancies% Change Jan to Oct
UK wide*876,983360,183602,455-31%
South East England137,97065,41790,766-34%
North West England70,78831,51250,727-28%
South West England66,36631,86555,056-17%
Eastern England73,16633,52954,782-25%
West Midlands60,05024,32743,791-27%
Yorkshire And The Humber46,13020,09933,831-27%
East Midlands44,51819,05337,264-16%
North East England13,1916,74811,235-15%
Northern Ireland6,1972,4854,891-21%
The table above shows the variance in hiring activity at 3 key points of the 2020 – January (pre-pandemic), May (2020 hiring low point) and October (latest hiring data)


Sector Overview: 

The recovery has been led by the handful of sectors boosted by the pandemic. Logistics & Warehouse, Manufacturing & Cleaning jobs are now in positive territory – hiring rates in these sectors are now above pre-pandemic levels. There are now over 60,000 live Logistics & Warehouse jobs being advertised across Britain, the most we’ve seen in a single month since we started collecting job market data 10 years ago. Logistics & Warehouse jobs are up 77% since the start of the year, Manufacturing jobs have grown by a fifth, and key worker roles like Healthcare & Nursing and Social Care are continually hiring.

But the autumn looks bleak for Travel & Hospitality jobseekers (-63%), Graduates (-59%) and Consultants/Freelancers (-57%). The wave of new UK restrictions, including the curfew, could cause these sectors to backtrack further and we expect Hospitality & Catering hiring activity to decline to 75% below normal levels by late spring and into the summer of 2021. Similarly, Travel looks stuck in the mud with no signs of imminent recovery. There will be a knock-on effect on workers in these areas and we expect to see huge movement between jobs as workers look to migrate from fading sectors to flourishing sectors.


SectorJob vacancies Jan 20' vs Oct 20’
Hospitality, Travel & Catering Jobs-63%
Graduate Jobs-59%
Consultancy Jobs-57%
HR & Recruitment Jobs-56%
Admin Jobs-55%
Charity & Voluntary Jobs-53%
Sales Jobs-52%
Accounting & Finance Jobs-50%
Legal Jobs-45%
Engineering Jobs-41%
Retail Jobs-39%
IT Jobs-38%
Customer Services Jobs-30%
Creative & Design Jobs-30%
Teaching Jobs-24%
Scientific & QA Jobs-22%
Maintenance Jobs-21%
Property Jobs-19%
Healthcare & Nursing Jobs-18%
Trade & Construction Jobs-16%
Social work Jobs-11%
Cleaning Jobs+14%
Manufacturing Jobs+19%
Logistics & Warehouse Jobs+77%
The table above shows the % of job vacancies advertised in the UK October 2020 vs. the pre-pandemic levels of January 2020



To conclude, there are definitely tough times ahead – we anticipate unemployment to significantly worsen as we move into winter, the job market will become more competitive and it’s clear that many sectors are keeping a lid on hiring while we battle the second wave of the virus. Confidence is key to getting Britain hiring again. That will come from keeping the virus at bay, a strengthening economy and continued government support for our businesses big and small.