Vacancies rise to 5-year high

Friday 8 November 2013

Job opportunities rose to the highest level in just over five years last month, the latest Reed Job Index has found, providing further proof the UK’s employment market is kicking back into gear.

Vacancies advertised on reached 165,000 over the course of October - the largest number since September 2008 just before the financial crisis. The figure represented an increase of as much as 17 per cent compared to the same period last year, highlighting how much the job market has accelerated in recent months.

Growth was widely distributed, with monthly and annual increases in vacancies across all 12 regions of the UK for the first time since the index began in 2009. But interestingly, Scotland was the strongest performer of all, with a remarkable annual increase of 48 per cent. This may be at least partially the result of record levels of investment in the region’s energy sector, which is concentrated around the northern city of Aberdeen and which is set to continue growing for the next few years, offering a wide range of opportunities for oil and gas contractors.

But every industry seems to share some of this optimism, since each of the 33 sectors monitored for the index posted an increase in job opportunities from the same time last year. Retail demonstrated one of the largest monthly increases of 17 per cent, though this is largely down to the beginning of the busy Christmas season sparking demand for additional staff.

However, other sectors demonstrated growth that was likely to be the result of increasing business confidence across the UK. For example, four months in a row of improvement enabled the construction sector to post a figure 74 per cent higher than the same month last year, while the automotive category saw a marked rise of 61 per cent. Logistics and manufacturing both also demonstrated gains of 58 and 37 per cent respectively.

James Reed, chairman of, described the latest figures as “further evidence of the continued recovery our figures have been showing for many months now".

“Importantly, this is the first time we have seen growth across every sector and in every region since we started the index at the end of 2009, which is good news for businesses and people around the country,” he said. “As an economic indicator, the jobs market is demonstrating confidence from employers across the UK to hire new staff, grow their business and support a strengthening economy.

Nevertheless, this spike in demand has yet to be translated into pay - wages remain roughly the same as last year in spite of inflation, while they even stand four per cent lower than they did when the index began four years ago. Mr Reed explained that this illustrates the UK is still “a long way from celebrating a successful recovery”.

The government and public alike will be paying close attention to the employment market next year, he added, given its broader significance for the economy as a whole. Indeed, the Bank of England has already said that the decision to increase interest rates will depend on what happens to the UK’s employment figures.

By Victoria McDonnell

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