The UK Labour Market Review: January 2023

January 24, 2023 by Elena Magrini, Rob Slane

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) continue to show a strong outlook for the UK, with the number of payroll employees at an all-time high, and unemployment lower than this time last year and well below pandemic-levels. To complement these official statistics, we’re beginning a monthly series using our proprietary data to dig deeper into current labour market trends, particularly in terms of salaries, recruitment intentions, and regional differences in employer demand.

Advertised salaries on the rise but not enough to keep up with inflation

Given the many headlines we’ve seen in recent months about the rise in the cost-of-living, a good place to start is by looking at salary data. The chart below shows advertised salaries in job postings continuing to grow, with the median advertised salary in December 2022 at £32,100 – up by £500 on the previous month. For graduate and managerial positions, the median advertised salary in December 2022 was £40,100 – almost £15,000 higher than job postings for other roles (£25,000). However, it is actually non-graduate positions that have seen the fastest year-on-year increase at 10.1%, compared to graduate and managerial positions, which have increased by just 6.8%. However, both are below the official inflation rate of 10.5%. 

Recruitment activity is still strong

Turning to overall recruitment activity in December, we can see from the chart below that there were:

  • 920k new postings in December 2022 compared to 1.0 million in November;

  • 2.5 million active postings, down from 2.8 million in November.

This dip in both new and active postings can largely be attributed to the “Christmas dip” that occurs every year, but what is more interesting is the fact that there were around 200,000 more new job postings in December 2022 than in December of the previous year, suggesting that despite all the current economic uncertainty, employer demand remains strong.

Overall recruitment growth was concentrated in the north

Although the previous chart showed a fall in the number of both new and active postings across the UK as a whole in December, some areas of the country still saw growth. The map below highlights those towns and cities across the country that saw a rise in recruitment activity, and the thing that immediately jumps out is just how many of these are in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. For example, Sunderland leads the pack with month-on-month growth in job postings at 7.4%, followed by Kingston-upon-Hull (6.2%); Rotherham (5.7%); and York (5.3%). East Anglia is also noteworthy, with Ipswich and Norwich seeing growth of 3.9% and 3.8% respectively:

Graduate recruitment growth clusters in Yorkshire and East Anglia

Of the 2.5 million active job postings mentioned above, 1.2 million (47%) of these were for graduate roles (defined as ONS Standard Occupation Classifications 2 and 3). Again, we can identify where the growth hotspots were in December, and once more we see a notable cluster of towns and cities in Yorkshire. York, for instance, saw 8.9% growth in postings for graduate positions month-on-month, followed by Wakefield (6.7%); Kingston-upon-Hull (5.5%); and Kirklees (4.7%). East Anglia is again represented by both Ipswich (6.7%) and Norwich (3.6%).

Professional roles in high demand and paying well

Finally, by combining job postings volume with salary data, we can get a much better sense of where particular occupation groups fit in terms of both pay and employer demand. The chart below shows that there are a number of occupation groups that are both in-demand and offer high wages. For example, the highest number of online job postings in December was for Science, Research, Engineering and Technology Professionals at 283,000, and these jobs also offer the highest advertised salary at an average of £47,552 per annum. Other in-demand, high paying occupations include Business, Media and Public Service Professionals (222,700 job postings; £43,968); and Health Professionals (143,900; £42,688).

There are also many non-graduate opportunities in the labour market, particularly in Caring and Administrative roles, but these tend to be less well paid.

Elena Magrini, Head of Research for Lightcast Global commented:

Despite economic uncertainties, the outlook of the UK labour market at the end of 2022 was still strong. Employer demand is strong, as shown by the fact that there were approximately 200,000 more job postings posted online in December 2022 compared to the same time last year.

Advertised salaries are also on the rise in most occupations, and in particular for non-graduate positions. However, this growth is not keeping up with inflation, meaning that many of the jobs currently being advertised are not actually offering growth in real terms. This is particularly the case for graduate roles: advertised salaries for these roles have only grown by 6.8% in the past year, while inflation has risen by 10.5%.

Look out for our next UK Labour Market Review on 13th February - the day before the next ONS Labour Market release.

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