Data from the Office for National Statistics show that online job adverts in the UK have hit their highest level since the first lockdown a year ago. The ONS reports that on 12 March 2021, the volume of online job adverts listed on Adzuna was at 93% of its average level in February 2020. The highest level observed since 12 March 2020, driven by rises across all UK countries and regions, the ONS says.
The coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced the number of people at work. Last years labour market data from the ONS shows that in March 2020, there were 29 million payrolled employees, this dropped to 28.5 million in April 2020. The new increase in vacancies is a sign that the employment market is picking up after the government has announced its roadmap and budget. This is due to firms planning for the end of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Once COVID-19 lockdown restrictions end, firms in industries such as hospitality, retail and tourism will require additional labour to accommodate for the increase in demand as consumer confidence increases. So, to ensure that the transition to normality is as smooth as possible, firms have already begun listing vacancies to ensure they can respond to the demand change accordingly.
Additionally, the increased vacancies show that the unemployment caused by the pandemic is likely temporary and not structural, which is the loss of industry. However, sectors such as retail, especially in clothing, may see a long-term decrease in demand for physical stores as the lockdown has potentially made more people into online shoppers, changing consumer habits.
There has also been an increase in home bars being built across the UK, which may lead to a decreased demand for pubs as some would rather invite friends and families over to their home. However, it is unlikely that these factors will lead to an entire loss of the retail and hospitality industries.
Overall, the data from the ONS shows that firms have increased confidence as they are prepared to begin accommodating the wants and needs of consumers once the economy opens up. Soon, the lockdown will be lifted (hopefully) and the nation will return to normality with a bustling tourism sector which will support the jobs in hospitality, increasing employment in those industries and leading to economic growth.