Job vacancies climb as companies begin re-hiring

Hiring is back as the economy reopens and bosses take on more staff, raising hopes that the newly unemployed will be able to get back to work.

More than 1.1m jobs are available according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), including an extra 125,000 new postings in the past week.

The Office for National Statistics found that online vacancy adverts are now up to 62pc of their 2019 level, up from just over half in late July and a low of 42pc in May.

Previously closed industries are bringing back furloughed workers, with less than 14pc of all private sector staff now paid to stay at home. This is down by more than half from its peak, indicating that most are now working once more.

In the final fortnight of July more than one-quarter of all staff in arts, entertainment, and recreation returned to work, the ONS found, meaning that less than half of that industry’s workforce is now furloughed.

Three-quarters of companies in the sector are now open, or will be very soon. 

More than one-sixth of all accommodation and food services staff did likewise as the hospitality trade reopened for business, with 90pc of restaurants, pubs and hotels back up and running.

Across the private sector as a whole, more than 19 in every 20 businesses are now open, or plan to reopen in the coming weeks.

Demand is surging for builders, gardeners and lorry drivers, the REC found, as well as childminders and, less reassuringly, debt collectors.

“Construction sites have re-opened, logistics companies are dealing with high demand, and with people spending more time at home, many have been looking to spruce up their house and gardens. The increase in adverts for childminders and playworkers is interesting and perhaps linked to more people returning to offices and workplaces in the near future,” said Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC. 

“It’s important to remember that we are not just passengers in all of this – we have tools available that can minimise the unemployment increase that is coming. Absent a major second wave of the virus, Government needs to make sure all its actions boost the recovery rather than put the brakes on. Supporting retention and hiring by lowering employers’ National Insurance would be a good start.”

Half of workers now feel confident about going back to work, according to a survey by Aviva, with more than six in 10 confident their employer will put in place appropriate safety measures.

It came as the number of new jobless claims in the US slowed again to 963,000 last week.

It is the first time since the pandemic struck that the key indicator has fallen below 1m, and is a bigger drop than expected from the previous figure of 1.2m.

Lydia Boussour at Oxford Economics said it was “an encouraging sign” for the economy, which “suggests that the jobs recovery is regaining some momentum but with a staggering 28m workers still claiming some form of jobless benefits, much labour market progress remains to be done”.

Before the pandemic, around 200,000 new claims were typically made per week.

Meanwhile in France unemployment fell by 271,000 in the second quarter, but this mainly because large numbers of jobless people have given up looking for work and so no longer qualify as officially ‘unemployed’.

The employment rate dropped from 66pc to 64.4pc, according to official agency Insee, while the underemployment rate, which includes those part-time workers who want more hours, more than doubled from 8pc to 20pc.

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