Job vacancies climb as companies begin re-hiring

Tim Wallace
·3-min read
Building site - Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
Building site - Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Hiring is back as the economy reopens and bosses take on more staff, raising hopes of a jobs recovery after months of pain during lockdown.

More than 1.1m positions are available in Britain according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), including an extra 125,000 new postings in the past week.

The figures will boost economists proedicting a rapid "V-shaped" bounce back. They were revealed as US data showed that the number of people being laid off each week is continuing to fall.

In the UK, online adverts for vacancies now stand at 62pc of their 2019 level - up from just over half in late July and a low of 42pc in May, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Previously closed industries are bringing back furloughed workers after being allowed to restart, with growth building in arts, entertainment, pubs and restaurants as the nation inches back to normality.

Fewer than 14pc of all private sector staff are now paid to stay at home through the taxpayer subsidy scheme, down by more than half from the peak several months ago.

Three-quarters of companies involved in arts, entertainment and recreation are either open again or will be very soon. Over a quarter of their staff returned to work in the final fortnight of July, meaning that less than half of the industry’s workforce is now on enforced leave.

Meanwhile more than a sixth of accommodation and food services staff came back as the hospitality trade reopened for business, with 90pc of restaurants, pubs and hotels back in operation.

Across the private sector as a whole, over 19 in every 20 businesses are now open or is planning a return within weeks.

Demand is surging for builders, gardeners and lorry drivers, the REC found, as well as childminders - and, less reassuringly, debt collectors.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said: “Construction sites have re-opened, logistics companies are dealing with high demand, and with people spending more time at home, many have been looking to spruce up their house and gardens.

"The increase in adverts for childminders and playworkers is interesting and perhaps linked to more people returning to offices and workplaces in the near future. 

“It’s important to remember that we are not just passengers in all of this – we have tools available that can minimise the unemployment increase that is coming."

He called for a cut to employers’ National Insurance tax to boost hiring and help firms keep existing workers on.

Half of workers now feel confident about going back to their jobs, according to a survey by insurance company Aviva, with more than six in 10 sure their employer will put the necessary safety measures in place.

It came as the number of new jobless claims in the US slowed again to 963,000 last week, the first time since the pandemic struck that the key indicator has fallen below 1m.

The drop is bigger than economists were expected and down from 1.2m for previous seven days.

Lydia Boussour, of Oxford Economics, said it was an encouraging sign and suggests the jobs recovery is regaining momentum following a damaging second wave of infections that forced stats such as California, Florida and Texas to reintroduce restrictions.

However, she pointed out that 28m workers are still claiming some form of jobless benefit in a sign of the mountain facing America's economy.

Before the pandemic, around 200,000 new claims were typically made per week.

Meanwhile in France unemployment fell by 271,000 in the second quarter, but this mainly because large numbers of jobless people have given up looking for work and so no longer qualify as officially “unemployed”.

The employment rate dropped from 66pc to 64.4pc, according to official agency Insee. The underemployment rate - which includes those part-time workers who want more hours - more than doubled from 8pc to 20pc.