Coronavirus: Local lockdowns 'stifling jobs recovery'


Deserted High Streets are stifling the British job market's recovery, new research suggests.

Urban areas in Scotland and southern England have seen the biggest declines in job postings, according to the Centre for Cities think tank.

Vacancies have failed to return to pre-pandemic levels across all 63 towns and cities it analyzed across the UK.

The slow jobs recovery is linked to a "collapse" in the number of jobs in services being advertised, it says.

Aberdeen, where the oil industry has struggled during the pandemic, recorded the steepest fall, with a 75% decline in job vacancies at the beginning of October, compared to the same time last year.

It is followed by Edinburgh at 57%, and both Belfast and Crawley, a West Sussex town near Gatwick Airport, at 55%.

Where has seen the biggest fall in job vacancies?. Fall in job postings since October 2019 (%). Fall in job adverts compared with 2 October 2019 .

London has seen the sixth biggest fall in job postings at 52%. Overall, UK vacancies are 46% behind last year's level, said the report from the think tank and jobs website Indeed.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy.

"The government has told us to expect a tough winter and while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead."

'Long Winter' for unemployed

The think tank's analysts said in general, the lag in hiring was concentrated in sectors exposed to Covid-19 restrictions, such as retail, arts, and leisure. Stricter coronavirus rules are now in force for nearly six million Britons.

They also said working from home was stifling industries that depended on High Street footfall.

Areas where footfall has returned to normal more quickly, such as Birkenhead, Chatham, and Hull, have seen a faster recovery in the number of jobs advertised.

Pawel Adrjan, the UK economist at Indeed, said: "The timid recovery in job vacancies is a portent of the distress towns and cities could face if restrictions continue to spring up in parts of the country already reeling from imposed lockdowns and reduced footfall."

"With the remote work trend showing no sign of abating, and entire regions being placed under stricter control, service jobs in large towns and cities could become scarcer still and pull the UK into a jobs spiral," Mr Adrjan said.

"That could mean a very long winter ahead for the millions of people currently unemployed," he added.

The UK unemployment rate stood at 4.5% in the three months to August - the highest level seen in over three years.

According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 1.5 million people were out of work and job hunting between June and August.

A spokesperson for the Treasury said it had put in place a comprehensive plan to protect and create jobs in every region of the UK and increased the generosity of its winter support schemes.

"We are also providing additional funding for local authorities and devolved administrations to support local businesses," they added.

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