Job vacancies in the UK slumped by a quarter (25.3%) in December according to new data, reigniting unemployment fears as the nation enters its third full-scale lockdown.
The figures from CV Library, which explored job market data from December 2020, also found that the total number of job postings in Britain was 10.3% lower than in December last year.
The data compared December with the previous month and the same period in 2019.
The distribution sector recorded the largest decrease in job opportunities month-on-month, falling, 56.3%. However, the number of vacancies was still 18.6% higher than during the same period last year.
The design and catering industries were also among the worst hit sectors, as vacancies were 63.1% and 56.8% lower year-on-year, respectively.
The number of applications across the UK likewise dipped 23.2% on the month and 2.1% compared to the year prior.
Employment has fallen at its fastest pace in a decade from close to record highs a year ago. Since February, just as the pandemic first hit, the number of payrolled employees has also dropped by more than 800,000.
Meanwhile the claimant count— including those claiming unemployment- and low pay-related benefits — rose by 64,300 to reach 2.7 million. These numbers are set to exacerbate as Britain enters tougher lockdown restrictions.
On Monday night, in a televised address to the nation, UK prime minister Boris Johnson asked people to remain and work from home.
Non-essential retailers are to remain closed and primary and secondary schools across the country have also shut amid warnings that health service could be overwhelmed without tougher measures. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also introduced similar moves.
The new coronavirus strain, which is said to be between 50% and 70% more infectious than the original strain, is beginning to take its toll on the NHS as infections rose by a record 58,784 on Monday from 55,157 a day earlier. This was the seventh consecutive day of more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
Lee Biggins, chief executive and founder of CV-Library, said the employment figures highlight that “the next few months will not be plain sailing for the UK economy”.
“While a decrease in vacancies is always expected over the festive season, this significant drop proves that businesses have once again been forced to put their hiring plans on hold, while they navigate these turbulent waters.”
“These statistics prove that it was difficult to find a new role before the onset of yet another national lockdown and it’s only going to get tougher. However, our previous experience of these restrictions proves that the UK job market can bounce back and we’re hopeful that we will see this once lockdown is lifted.
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