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Live vacancy numbers down 63% on last year

There are, on average, 20 people claiming unemployment-related benefits for every job vacancy in ex-industrial and inner city areas, according to analysis by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), using vacancy data collected by Adzuna ( This is up from around four people per vacancy before the COVID-19 crisis.

The number of new vacancies, however, is on the rise. In the second week of June it was up to 106,000, almost double the number in the last week of May (58,000). Compared with last year, however, this is down by around two thirds (321,000 new vacancies were posted at this time last year). The number of live vacancies is also around two thirds (63%) lower at 368,000 and 45% lower than pre-crisis levels.

Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said, “This crisis has affected all parts of the economy, but it’s clear that it is hitting some places harder than others. Many of these areas were struggling before this crisis began and are in even more trouble now.  We need to be doing much more both to support employment demand in the short term – for example by cutting employer National Insurance – and in the longer term to support new industries and jobs.

“There are tentative signs that hiring may now be starting to pick up as businesses start to reopen, but these are very early signs.  New vacancies are still at barely a third of the levels they were a year ago, and there’s a lot of people working fewer hours than they’d want or wondering if they will have jobs to go back to after furlough. However if we can suppress the virus and start to ease restrictions further then we should start to see a stronger recovery.”

Dave Innes, head of economics at JRF, said,  “This research shows parts of the economy where workers are at the highest risk of poverty, such as restaurants and non-food retail, are being hardest hit by the outbreak, and areas of the country where people were already held back are falling even further behind. 

 “People who were already struggling to get by may find their hours are cut, or their jobs lost altogether at a time when vacancies are down significantly. As the furlough scheme winds down, unemployment is only likely to increase.

 “As the government focuses on restarting the economy and mitigating the economic impact of coronavirus, it has to be ambitious in the size and scope of its interventions to address these challenges. 

 “The government has restated its commitment to the ‘levelling up’ agenda. To make this ambition a reality, we need sustained investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country, as well as a social security system that supports people when they need it.”

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