Coronavirus: UK hiring could return to 'normal' by January

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/08/06: A general view of the St Marylebone Jobcentre Plus office. The Bank of England today warned that parts of the economy might never recover from coronavirus - with unemployment set to rise by a million within months as GDP plunges 9.5% - with the slump set to be the worst in a Century. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A general view of the St Marylebone Jobcentre Plus office. Photo: Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hiring activity in the UK could return to “normal” levels as soon as January 2021, following a tricky few months in the market due to coronavirus-induced caution.

Hiring across the UK hit lows of -68% in April, as many companies slammed the breaks on business decisions amid wide-reaching lockdowns, according to research carried out by jobs website Adzuna.

Those levels have rebounded somewhat since, but remain 31% below levels seen pre-pandemic.

Despite this positive data, job ad resurgence may be offset by a doubling of unemployment rate by year end. The Bank of England (BOE) forecasts unemployment to hit 7.5% by January.

Among winners of the jobs rebound are the North East, Midlands and South West, where numbers have recovered fastest. London has lagged behind as its hiring stagnated.

READ MORE: COVID-19: UK workers switch careers in 'toughest jobs market in a generation'

“I’m feeling increasingly optimistic that, after a dreadful spring and summer for the UK job market, we are beginning to see a sustained recovery in hiring,” said Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna

“There are definitely tough times ahead - we anticipate unemployment to significantly worsen as we move into winter, the job market will become more competitive and it’s clear that many sectors are keeping a lid on hiring while we battle the second wave of the virus.

Adzuna vacancy projections. Chart: Adzuna
Adzuna vacancy projections. Chart: Adzuna

“Confidence is key to getting Britain hiring again, and that will come from keeping the virus at bay, a strengthening economy and continued government support for our businesses big and small.”

Adzuna’s study found a huge variation between sectors, with an understandable 10-year high in logistics and warehouse jobs. Manufacturing and cleaning were also strong.

In travel and graduate jobs the outlook is bleaker as hiring in both of those sectors is down more than 50%.

New restrictions mean vacancies in hospitality and catering are also on a cliff-edge with the potential for vacancies to fall further to 75% below normal levels by summer 2021.

Watch: What are freeports?