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Renewed confidence in the job market uncovers a hidden unemployment
Fierce competition for jobs with applications per job at a 20 month high
Figures released today by reveals a two-speed labour market with recruiters seeing the first signs of recovery whilst conditions have never been tougher for job seekers. The analysis of recruiter and jobseeker activity, broken down across 32 sectors, shows that in the first quarter in 2010, the average number of jobs posted increased by one per cent on the previous quarter demonstrating a degree of cautious optimism. However, this increase should be judged carefully as when compared to the same period in 2009, the number of jobs posted is down by 25 per cent. With a 31 per cent increase in job applications for the same period, this means that despite the rise in jobs, a level of hidden unemployment exists.
The Totaljobs Barometer provides one of the most comprehensive representations of supply and demand in the UK job market. With around 2.8 million jobseekers visitors each month, todays figures provide an indication of how UK recruitment has fared in the first quarter in 2010 as well as providing insight into how the labour market might shape up post-election and throughout 2010.
John Salt, a Director at commented on the figures:
This quarter presents a tale of two stories. We are beginning to see certain sectors planning for increased consumer spending as we come out of the recession, such as sales and customer services. However, the number of jobs posted in the public sector reveals a hidden issue.  With the current political debate on public sector spending cuts, the long term issue of a talent exodus out of the public sector is real. Not only do these workers provide the frontline services upon which we all depend but the strength of the public sector has contributed to an era of growth for the UK in recent years, levelling out other sectors that have faltered.
Two-speed labour market
Sector comparisons reveal that whilst certain industries have prospered in the first quarter of 2010 vs. Q4 2009, a number of key areas continue to suffer. Industries charting pronounced improvements in job supply have included roles in property (30 per cent), electronics (27 per cent), secretarial/admin/PA (25%), customer services (22 per cent) and sales (19 per cent). In contrast, the public sector, in particular health and nursing as well as social services, have suffered significant decreases in jobs posted compared to Q4 in 2009 (42% and 17 per cent respectively). Separate research from reveals that those planning on exiting the public sector are more experienced employees that support families, with one third having over ten or more years experience. This potential exodus of talent risks leaving a skills gap within the public sector as other industries poach its core expertise from within the workforce.
Returners to the UK labour market
Despite the tough conditions a sense of cautious optimism appears to be returning to the market with an eight[1] per cent increase in job seekers confidence in landing a job within two months. With ONS charting a three month increase in UK employment, a greater number of job seekers are returning to the labour market. As a result, competition for jobs is at a 20 month high of 13 applications per job.
John Salt, Director at continues:
With unemployment figures down, the short term picture looks very positive, however, the long term view is one of more caution. Increased confidence in the job market means that competition for jobs has never been so fierce. Those that might have chosen to stay at home, travel or embark on further study are returning to the job market after a year out and as a result are driving job applications up. For employers, it means greater choice and more experienced applicants allowing them to secure the best people to help grow their business for the future.
Regional winners and losers
The increased competition amongst jobseekers becomes even more pronounced when looking at regions in the UK. Despite one of the biggest percentage increases in jobs posted this quarter, jobseekers in the North West are experiencing intense competition with 11 applications per job. Scotland fares worse with a 21 per cent decrease in jobs posted and an average of 9 applications per job. Finally, bouncing back from its five per cent fall in the last quarter, London saw a five per cent increase in jobs posted, but finished the quarter on a record high of 16 applications per job.



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