City jobs market rebound cut short by coronavirus

Empty streets in London's financial centre

The City jobs market enjoyed a healthy rebound in the first month of the year – only to be cut short by the coronavirus at the start of March.

According to recruitment company Morgan McKinley’s Spring London Employment Monitor, there was a 97% month on month increase in jobs available between January 2020 and December 2019.

The market remained buoyant in February and then dropped by 38%, month on month, in March as the pandemic brought hiring to an abrupt pause.

The number of people looking for jobs in the financial services sector increased 21% in January compared to the previous month, and continued to rise by 7% in March compared to February.

The average salary change for a new employee moving from one company to another fell in March to an average 12% increase in pay. This is the lowest in more than two years, said Morgan McKinley, although July 2019 was also a 12% average.

During the 11 months prior, the average salary change was 19%, suggesting that employers are more frugal in the salaries being offered since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company’s managing director Hakan Enver said City employers were doing all they could to support remote working and business continuity.

He said: “Out of the frying pan and into the fire: we barely got to take a breath between Brexit and this new global crisis. London came back in the new year, with a renewed optimism, which was reflective in the general mood of employees and employers alike.

“Soon enough, business confidence fell once again which has in turn impacted trading prospects and overall economic optimism.”

He added that many banks were honouring job offers they had already made, although projects were being paused and this has led to a slowdown in new hires.

“Once the initial shock wears off we will see jobs begin to trickle back through,” he said.

“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will go a long way toward ensuring that as few employees and employers as possible fall through the cracks during this difficult time. It’s critical that the government and business continue to work together, with the country uniting to tackle this common threat.”

Those that work in IT and financial technologies (fintech) will continue to enjoy a “robust” jobs market, Enver continued, as these roles will be critical to get businesses back up and running.

Many businesses are continuing to bring in software engineers, IT auditors and cyber security experts, onboarding them remotely where possible and using couriers to get the necessary equipment to them.

Enver added: “Despite all the above, if the global pandemic results in a global recession, then we will feel the consequences of this moment for some time. That’s why right now it’s all hands on deck to avoid a health calamity that precipitates an economic one.”

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