Britain’s resurgent jobs market is being led by cities and towns in the North and Midlands, according to new research by global job site Indeed and the Centre for Cities think tank.
Hiring gathered pace after the government's reopening roadmap was announced on 22 February but new analysis shows job growth is unevenly spread across the country.
Indeed and the Centre for Cities analysed job vacancies in 63 cities and large towns and found that in some parts of the country job postings now exceed their pre-pandemic level with those in the North and Midlands having so far witnessed the strongest recovery in job postings.
In total, nine cities or towns – led by Barnsley (+21%), Mansfield (20%) and Stoke (17%) – now have more job postings than before the pandemic started.
In contrast, Aberdeen (-53%), Belfast (-39%) and Crawley (-39%) are the three places where job postings have recovered the least, together with other cities and large towns predominantly in the South East of England.
London too is among the places with the slowest recovery: job postings in the capital are still 26% below their level before the pandemic, making it the 11th city with the slowest recovery.
The improving jobs landscape in the North and Midlands is partly driven by the mix of available jobs. Recoveries have been strongest in areas with a greater pre-pandemic share of postings in occupations related to the production and distribution of goods, such as manufacturing, driving and loading & stocking, as well as essential services like healthcare, social care and education.
On the other hand, places with a higher share of pre-pandemic job opportunities in food & beverage service and hospitality & tourism are lagging behind.
New analysis of claimant counts and job vacancies points to which jobs markets were hardest hit by Covid-19 and might take longest to return to their February 2020 level.
Places with high claimant count and low job postings include Brighton, Crawley, Slough as well as London in the south and Blackpool and Manchester in the north. These cities and large towns -- which have a dependency on tourism and bustling workplaces -- are the hardest hit by the pandemic as recruitment activity is lagging and more people are looking for jobs.
In contrast, places with low claimant count rates and whose job postings have mostly recovered to their pre-pandemic level - such as Mansfield, Swansea and Warrington - appeared to have been relatively sheltered from the economic impact of Covid-19.
Pawel Adrjan, head of EMEA research at the global job site Indeed, comments:
“As hiring activity picks up across the country it’s clear there is a two-step jobs recovery underway in Britain.
“Cities and towns in the North and Midlands that have been buoyed by rising manufacturing, distribution, healthcare and education jobs but at the same time areas reliant on hospitality, tourism and higher paying jobs that can be performed from home have seen only sluggish growth.
“Just nine urban areas out of 63 have back above their pre-pandemic level and while the partial reopening of the economy earlier this month rode to the rescue of many businesses and workers our research shows that it alone was not enough to lift ailing area’s jobs levels significantly.
“We’ve seen how quickly the jobs market reacts to policy and public health announcements and policy makers will hope the eventual unwinding of Covid-19 restrictions will help level up the jobs recovery.”
Elena Magrini, senior analyst at the Centre for Cities, said: “Not everywhere is seeing yet the beginnings of post-pandemic recovery. Places reliant on tourism, aviation and office workers have been particularly hard hit and still have high shares of people who are unemployed or on furlough.
“Despite this, we have reasons to be optimistic, particularly given the pace of the recovery in the North and Midlands. Once we have reopened the economy, policy makers need to focus on building back better – growing the economy by creating better paid, higher skilled jobs for people right across the country.”