Totaljobs Barometer report: Q2 2012

People predicting a double-dip recession will point to the news from our latest Barometer report that the number of jobs has fallen by 5.5% in the last quarter. Compared to the same period last year, however, jobs posted has grown by 6.2%, indicating that things are still improving long-term.

The recruitment industry’s traditional New Year surge may well hold a clue to the Q1 > Q2 drop in jobs posted, something that is reflected in jobseeker activity within the same period. Applications have fallen since the first quarter of the year, but have actually grown to the tune of 12% since this time last year.

Competition is probably the truest way of demonstrating how well supply and demand are matching up, and this quarter’s figure of 17.2 applications per job is one of the highest we’ve seen since the Barometer began in early 2009. This is still a hefty drop from the first quarter of this year, which saw an unprecedented 19.9 applications for every job posted on Is this down to a January jobseeker surge? We’ll have to wait and see.

Regional jobs breakdown

There are marked variations across the regions when it comes to jobs posted figures. Scotland is the only area to show an increase from first quarter stats (up 2.5%); a figure compounded by year on year growth of 20.8%. The majority of other regions see their jobs posted figures drop by single-digit figures from last quarter but grow substantially year on year (Northern Ireland boasts a 22.3% surge), while East Anglia shows the highest fall from last quarter (10.3%). London and Wales are the only two regions to show a fall on both last quarter and year on year stats, indicating that the jobs market is remaining static there.

In terms of applications, each of the 12 regions saw a dip in jobs posted in Q2 2012 when compared to the first quarter of the year but, then again, they all showed hefty year on year growth, with London the only region not posting a double-digit increase.

London continues to be the most competitive region in the UK, with over 23 people applying for every job posted in the capital. Like every region, this represents a drop from last quarter’s record-breaking figures – in London, for example, the first quarter of 2012 saw an incredible 27 jobseekers vying for each vacancy.

The job market by sector

The regional jobs posted trend is reflected throughout most industry sectors, with most industries suffering a decline compared to the first quarter of 2012 while enjoying a significant boost to year on year figures. Nursing numbers has been a big story recently, and a 12% drop in the number of jobs available since the start of the year might indicate that NHS cuts are having an impact, but when this is tallied with a massive 30% year on year increase, maybe we shouldn’t be predicting the end just yet.

Education, another key public sector area, has grown substantially in the past year (13% since Q1 of 2012 and 34% year on year), to the extent that this quarter saw more jobs created in that sector than ever before (well, before 2009 anyway). The remainder of the public sector doesn’t fare so well, though, with a 28% drop since the start of the year and a small 2% decrease year on year. It’s worth noting that, with education and nursing factored in, the public sector is actually in reasonably rosy health.

Other sectors worth mentioning, mainly for their enormous year on year growth, are oil & gas and transport & logistics, both of which posted 40%+ increases in job availability. Engineering, sales and IT are still the largest sectors in terms of sheer bulk of jobs.

Applications continue to grow year on year, to the extent that competition for jobs within catering & hospitality now stands at 29 applications per job; this figure stood at 19 just a year ago. Continuing trends we’ve seen for a while now, customer services (46 applications per job), secretarial (44 applications per job) and retail (35 applications per job) are the most competitive sectors by some distance.

What does it all mean?

On the surface, it would seem that times aren’t getting any easier for browbeaten jobseekers, but looking deeper, a few things emerge:

  1. In every year we’ve run the Barometer, the first quarter has always been followed by a sharp decline in the next quarter. The ‘New Year new job’ factor is obviously significant.
  2. The second quarter in 2011 and 2012 shared extended bank holidays (for the Royal Wedding and the Golden Jubilee respectively), so these can be compared like for like. Therefore, a year on year increase should be taken as a positive.
  3. Competition continues to be a major obstacle for jobseekers: 16 other applicants competing for each job they go for isn’t likely to increase morale any time soon.


1 Comment

  1. Mersey August 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I beg to disagree on your comments about 16 applicants chasing each job. There are, in fact, FAR more than that. For instance, in my area, Merseyside – the WORST place on God’s earth for jobs – there are HUNDREDS chasing each vacancy. And it shows no signs of improving any time soon, either. Very, very depressing.

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