Advertised UK Salaries Lagging Despite High Inflation

The UK Labour Market Review: March 2023

Published on Mar 13, 2023

Updated on May 19, 2023

Written by Elena Magrini & Rob Slane

The UK Labour Market Review

In its February Labour Market Overview, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a fall of 76,000 job vacancies from November to January, as well as a decline in real earnings (adjusted for inflation) of 3.1% between October and December.

In this month’s Lightcast UK Labour Market Review, we look at how online job postings and advertised salaries are tracking up to February 2023, digging beneath the headline figures published by the ONS to reveal hotspots in recruitment demand, along with a truly insightful look at which skills are seeing the fastest growth in demand.

Job postings remain stable but advertised salaries only back to 2021 levels

In last month’s Review, we saw that recruitment demand had remained strong, despite many of the gloomy economic forecasts and stories doing the rounds, with 1.1 million new postings in January 2023, compared to 971,000 in the same month of 2022. As the first chart below shows, demand in February remained largely stable, with just under 1.1 million new job postings in the month – only slightly less than both January 2023 and February of last year. 

In last month’s Review we also saw a fall in median advertised salaries, with the average across all jobs being £31,200 – £1,800 less than December. Although February’s data shows a slight rise to just over £32,000 for all jobs, this is still below the £33,000 in December 2022. Even more significantly, as the second chart below shows, it has only just recovered to levels last seen in February 2021, but back then inflation was under 1%, compared to the latest official rate of 10.1%

The largest month-on-month growth in recruitment activity was in ...

If we were to take a poll asking people where the highest growth in recruitment demand in the UK was last month, how many would answer Slough? Probably not many, yet this is what the data shows. With 13% month-on-month growth for all positions, and 24.3% month-on-month growth for graduate positions, the Berkshire town leads the pack of 20 hotspots across the UK. 

Looking at the hotspot maps below, it is noteworthy that there are clusters of towns and cities that have seen high growth in demand from employers in the tech-hub of Berkshire (Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Reading), as well as the West Midlands (Warwick, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley and Wolverhampton).

If you’d like to find out more about which companies and job titles are driving this growth in these and other areas, get in touch today.

The skills that employers are looking for

Finally in this month’s Review, let’s take a look at skills. Skills are the basic unit and shared language of the labour market, and identifying the skills required to perform a job gives us far more understanding of what’s involved in a job than a job title can. We are able to identify skills in online job adverts, by using the 32,000+ skills we’ve gathered from hundreds of millions of online job postings, profiles, and CVs and compiled in our Skills Library.

In the charts below, we’ve identified the top 20 common, specialised and software skills in terms of growth in 2022 compared to 2021 (we’ve included only those skills that appear in at least 1% of total postings for common and specialised skills, and 0.25% or more for software skills). 

A few things stand out as being noteworthy. Firstly, looking at common skills, there are a number of training/coaching skills that grew significantly in demand in 2022. For instance, teaching, training and development, coaching, and mentorship. For specialised skills, along with a number of administrative skills, a number of more sales and marketing-type skills have grown in demand, such as purchasing, marketing, and procurement. Finally, when we look at software skills, along with some of the more general skills we might expect, such as Microsoft Office, Excel and Powerpoint, there are also a number of more specific skills that have seen strong growth in demand, such as Aruba (Network Management Software), R (Programming Language), and (Go Programming Language).

Elena Magrini, Lightcast's Head of Global Research commented:

Compared to the fast growth seen in 2021 and the first half of 2022, new online job postings activity appears to be stabilising. With the exception of month-on-month fluctuations, the overall line is flattening, which could be a very early indication of a cooling in the labour market. 

Of even more concern is that this stabilisation is also seen in terms of advertised salaries, while inflation is running high. This suggests that job changes - the traditional route to higher earnings - may currently not be enough to help UK households face the cost of living crisis.

We’ll be back with another UK Labour Market Review on 10th April - the day before the April ONS Labour Market release.

In the meantime, why not get in contact to find out how we can offer you much more of this type of data for your area, to help you unlock new possibilities in your labour market.