Two years on…how much has Covid actually impacted the job market?

Two years on…how much has Covid actually impacted the job market?

March 23 2022 marked two years since the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told the nation they should stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

It has been a turbulent two years, with multiple lockdowns, rising living costs and food and petrol shortages. It’s little wonder that such economic uncertainty has taken its toll on the UK’s workforce.

Countless articles were written about the future of labour during the pandemic, some predicting that working from home would overtake office working, others suggesting that certain sectors would become obsolete, and with many agonising over the exponential number of job vacancies. At Fast Recruitment Websites, we have, at certain points during the last two years, also tried to explore the impact of the pandemic on the sector. We produced blogs that analysed data and statistics from various sources, in a bid to gauge the effect of Covid on the labour market.

Two years on, and whilst we’re definitely not out of Covid’s vice, most things have returned to some sort of normality—we currently have no mandates on wearing masks, staying at home, or social distancing. We cannot predict what’s round the corner, however, as these last two years have proved, but we believe we’re on stable enough ground to look back, to see whether any of our predictions were right.

The article we published in June 2021, entitled ‘Training, Changing Careers, and Improving Futures’, reported that the hospitality industry had been dealt a particularly harsh blow in the pandemic. We mused over workers in those sectors and how they’d begun to realise that the long hours hospitality roles required were ‘no longer attractive’, and that said employees were ‘re-evaluating their priorities whilst on furlough’.  In May 2022, this sentiment looks to have remained, and it's not just restricted to the hospitality industry either. A study from IFS reveals that there are currently more vacancies for lower-skilled and lower-paid occupations—with vacancies for warehouse workers at double the pre-pandemic level and vacancies for drivers being 80% higher. This, perhaps, further supports our initial point that, in the face of the pandemic, workers have decided to upskill, look for further training opportunities, and/or apply for roles that would give them a better work/life balance and employee benefits.

As a company that specialises in recruitment website design, we know first-hand the ups and downs of hiring during the pandemic. The IFS reports that there are currently 20% more job vacancies than before March 2020, and that ‘almost all unemployed workers face more job vacancies that match their skills than they would have done before the pandemic’. Consequently, jobseekers are choosing the job with the best salary, perks and flexibility—and, overall, the vacancy that most appeals to them. Perhaps recruiters will need to polish up their websites if they want to fill a job vacancy, ensuring it is as attractive as it can be to these job-hunters who are reportedly enjoying the highest number of options they’ve ever had. We’re not guessing at this; the House of Commons Library reveals that between January and March 2022 there was the highest amount of job vacancies ‘since comparable records began in 2001’. 

In this article, which we published in May 2020, we suggested that ‘the economy is headed towards a recession the likes of which we’ve never seen, and the long-term effects could affect numerous future generations’. Now, in 2022, the stats aren’t doing anything to quieten our concerns, with data from the ONS showing that the pound has sunk to ‘its lowest level against the dollar since late 2020’. Consumer spending has declined—worst hit is online-only retailers, with their trade falling 7.9% in March, following a 6.9% fall in February. The most likely cause of this decrease is because consumers are bearing the brunt of exponential price rises, with 87% of UK adults saying their cost of living increased in March.

On reflection, most of our predictions seem to have come, or be coming, true. People in lower-paid occupations are looking for jobs with better benefits, and recruiters may indeed need to work harder to get vacancies off their books.

With much more competition, and rising living costs lowering our spending, the idea of a recession seems almost inevitable.

The UK’s economy and labour market will continue to fluctuate. With a turbulent political landscape and no limit to how much prices may increase, who really knows what will happen next?

Fast Recruitment Websites specialise in recruitment website design. Your website forms part of the recruitment process—what does yours say about your agency? For advice from the experts, contact us on 01302 288591.

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