The Subtle Art of Saying “That’s Not My Job”

U.K. online job vacancies declined last week, a sign of a weakening labor market just as Chancellor Rishi Sunak attempts to stem unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The number of vacancies fell to 361,000 on July 5, from 387,000 the previous week, according to data collected by the Adzuna job search engine and analyzed by the Institute for Employment Studies. This was the first weekly decrease since May and came even as more parts of the economy opened up following months of government-imposed lockdown.
There are 650,000 fewer positions being advertised than the same time last year and the number of new vacancies being posted is still just half the level seen before the crisis struck, the IES said Friday. Their analysis has also found that more disadvantaged regions are being hit particularly hard, with ex-industrial, inner-city, and coastal areas seeing on average 20 jobseekers chasing every role, compared with a national average of 8.5.
Covid-19 brought most economic activity to a standstill. To get it going again, Sunak on Wednesday announced an extra 30 billion pounds ($37.5 billion) of tax cuts and spending. Yet joblessness is still expected to surge as he starts to unwind the unprecedented government programs that are funding the wages of more than 12 million workers.
“A combination of continued employer uncertainty and significant spare capacity within firms as workers come back from furlough has led to a stagnant hiring market,” said IES Director Tony Wilson. “The government will need to act fast in implementing its plan for jobs. And if vacancies don’t start to bounce back during the summer, we may yet need more measures to stimulate new hiring.”