Totaljobs Barometer report: February 2013

While the snow from January has well and truly melted, the UK jobs market remains in a deep freeze with the statistics from February showing little sign of it thawing out at any significant pace. The economy shrank 0.3% in the final quarter of 2012, posing the very real threat of an unprecedented triple-dip recession going into the New Year. And while many tipped 2013 to be the year of growth, January and February have gotten off to a particularly sluggish start.

With that said, this February saw a 14% decrease in applications per job in comparison to February 2012, and despite a 3% decrease in jobs posted, the jobs market is improving – albeit slowly. Looking solely at the applications per job stats for February, 2013 has seen an average of 17.4 applications per job while 2012 had 19.9. Although there are still 17 people applying for every job, this is a 10% decrease from January’s applications per job which stood at 19, offering slight relief but no promises of a better year.

Regional jobs breakdown

Beginning with our largest region, London has seen a significant 9% decrease in the amount of applications per job. However, this is coupled with an 11% decrease in jobs posted, indicating that finding a job in the capital is easier, but London is still the most difficult region to gain employment. The South East region beyond London also received a boost in February as applications per job fell by 14% compared with 2012, while applications decreased by 19%.

Another revelation to surface from February’s barometer data is the 35% decrease in applications per job in Scotland. Applications decreased by 31% while the amount of jobs posted increased by 2%. This means that roughly 14 people are applying for each job compared to 19 in February 2012.

The only negative barometer statistic comes from Northern Ireland, which out of all regions actually experienced a tougher month in February 2013 than its 2012 counterpart. A 4% increase in applications per jobs, allied with a 49% decrease in jobs posted, suggests that the country is still struggling to break-free from the confines of a recessive economy.

In contrast, particularly tough regions such as the North East and North West of England are also showing signs of positive development, proving that (with the exception of Northern Ireland) the UK has seen a more buoyant February in 2013 than 2012.

Though most regions have experienced a positive month, the UK economy is still expected to grow a meagre 0.7% in 2013, meaning that the struggle of the jobseeker doesn’t look like relenting by any significant amount in the months ahead.

Sector comparisons

The competition for jobs seems to have eased in February as some of the most hotly contested sectors have seen huge drops in applications per job. Customer services, which registered 58 people applying for each job in February 2012, fell 41% to 40 applications per job while jobs posted increased by 1.6%. Applications per job for human resources also decreased by 18%, while catering and hospitality fell by 34%. Secretarial, PA, administration jobs, accountancy and public sector also fell 13%, 31% and 38% respectively.

Another interesting discovery posed by the barometer stats is the positive development of the retail sector. Despite the rumours that the high street worker was ambling toward extinction due to the internet and many high street retailers such as HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops entering administration, the amount of jobs posted actually increased by 6%.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly given the economic crisis that has affected so many families and businesses in the UK, the biggest increase in jobs posted goes to accountancy, which saw a massive 54% increase in available jobs.

What does it all mean?

The barometer figures for February 2013 raise the following points:

  1. February 2013 has been a slight improvement on 2012, but it is also no indication that the UK jobs market is going to improve drastically in the near future.
  2. All regions bar Northern Ireland are showing slow, but positive development.
  3. The future of the high street retail worker is definitely not as bleak as recently predicted.
  4. The snow that halted society in January may have pushed the UK to the tipping point of a triple-dip recession, which could be attributed to the slow start for the jobs market in early 2013.


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