Job market recovery predicted to stall in 2011

The job market recovery recorded in 2010 is set to stall in early 2011, according to figures released today.

The Totaljobs Barometer’s analysis of recruiter and jobseeker activity shows that the supply of jobs has grown by almost one-fifth (19%) since the start of 2010, but this is expected to shrink back in early 2011.

According to Totaljobs’ figures, the recovery in 2010 has been led by sectors such as sales, customer services, IT, and retail. Competition for positions has also continued to grow due to a record number of people returning to the job market, pushing applications per job to an all-time high of 19 in November 2010.

John Salt, director, commented: “2010 has been a story of a long, hard climb to reach the peaks of job supply we last saw back in summer 2009. Unfortunately the New Year looks certain to see us sliding backwards, with external influences such as the VAT increase and instability in the European markets set to hit both employer and consumer confidence. We expect a contraction in job supply at the beginning of the year as businesses wait to see how the UK economy performs.”

Many of the job market challenges during 2010 were generated by the uncertainty surrounding the public sector. However, the Totaljobs figures also show how the private sector also suffered, with the construction and electronics industries seeing a respective 5% and 2% decrease in jobs available since the start of the year.

This is attributed to external influences such as demand for new houses declining and applications for mortgages falling by 9%. In contrast, sectors such as retail, customer services, banking, insurance and finance have seen the biggest increases in jobs available in 2010 – rising by 35%, 32%, and 31% respectively.

Across the UK, many areas experienced a fall in the number of jobs posted in November against the start of the year. The North West and the South East saw competition for jobs rise from 8 and 16, to 16 and 27 applications per job respectively. London, in contrast, saw only a small 3% growth in the number of jobs posted in 2010, and finished the year on 19 applications per job.

John Salt warns that this increased competition for vacancies might prompt UK jobseekers to look elsewhere. He said: “With an unsure start to 2011, there is the real possibility of a ‘talent exodus’ as more people look abroad for jobs. As companies such as KPMG and the big four continue their Europe-wide recruitment drive, the issue of key skills leaving the UK is real. We also expect there to be further pressure for private sector jobs early in the year as the nation looks to them to pick up the slack from the public sector cuts this year.”

Scott Corfe, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said: “The findings of the Totaljobs Barometer support our view that the UK labour market recovery is still not a done deal, with intense competition for what job vacancies are available. Looking forward to 2011, concerns about the implications of government spending cuts and tax rises may reduce business appetite for taking on new workers.”

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