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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Job adverts reach new 2020 high in early December, boosting hopes of growth for 2021

Press releases

  • 1.40 million active job adverts in the first week of December, the highest weekly total this year
  • Almost every nation and region of UK saw rise in job adverts, led by South-west England (+2.6%)
  • North-west England was the only region where active job adverts fell (-2.7%)
  • Notable increase in adverts for vets, medical professionals and fitness instructors
  • Drop in postings for tax experts, welders, glaziers and warehousing roles

The number of active job adverts in the UK rose to a new high in the first week of December, after growth in the labour market stalled during England’s month-long lockdown. There were 1.40 million active job postings between 30 November and 6 December, the highest weekly total of 2020.

This should give us renewed confidence that the jobs market will bounce back in 2021, despite the continuing threat of COVID-19. News that the vaccine rollout has begun should also boost positivity among businesses and consumers.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“After a very difficult year, we have seen the jobs market recovering over the past few months, and I am optimistic that this will continue in 2021. Employers will always want to create new jobs where they can, and as the vaccine rollout continues and health restrictions ease, we should start to see that happening more. The recovery of city economies should also accelerate.

“However, we should be under no illusions that jobseekers and businesses will need help from Government to adapt to the changed economy. That means working closely with recruiters, the country’s job experts, to get more people back into work, as well as incentivising job creation through tax policy and more effective skills training. In this context, avoiding the economic disturbance of a no deal will also be a vital step to supporting jobs. It’s time to get the deal done.”


Every UK nation and almost all English regions saw growth in active job postings in the first week of December. South-west England saw the biggest rise (+2.7%), with growth particularly strong in Dorset (+4.3%), Torbay (+3.7%) and Bournemouth & Poole (+3.7%). Other local areas with strong weekly growth in active postings included East Lothian & Midlothian (+4.3%) and Falkirk (+4.3%).

The only region which saw a fall in active job postings was north-west England, where the 2.7% drop in postings was focused mainly in Mid Lancashire (-9.3%), now under England’s highest level of restrictions. It is worth noting, however, that the north-west had a stronger recovery earlier in the autumn.

There was a significant increase in job adverts for vets (+18.1%) in the first week of December, as well as veterinary nurses (+8.0%). This may be due to the impact of Brexit on the profession, with a high proportion of vets in the UK coming from the EU, and potential changes in food safety and animal welfare standards.

There was also growth in adverts for fitness instructors (+6.0%) as gyms re-opened in England last week, as well as medical practitioners (+6.8%) and physiotherapists (+5.3%).

Meanwhile, there was a fall in adverts for tax experts (-19.9%) as well as skilled trades like welders (-6.6%), glaziers (-6.5%) and roofers (-5.7%), as demand for their services drops over Christmas and New Year. There was also a decline in active postings for warehousing roles (-6.4%), which is likely to reflect normalisation after a spike of hiring in previous months as firms prepared for the festive period.

Matthew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi said:

“It has been encouraging to see a steady increase in overall recruitment activity across most of the nation during the last couple of weeks, and this confirms the latest government estimates that national job vacancies levels have now peaked over half a million.

“One slight note of caution, however, is that whilst the total stock of job postings has increased, there has been a slight slowdown in new job posting activity over the last month.

“This is apparent across all UK government regions, with the exception of Northern Ireland. For example, the East of England has seen a 14% decrease in new postings over the last fortnight, whilst the North East and East Midlands have declined by 11% and 10% respectively.

“There are a number of possible reasons for this. It may be related to the time of year, when hiring activity traditionally winds down, or perhaps because organisations are pausing on new hiring activity until there is greater clarity on a Brexit ‘Deal or No-Deal’. It is also possible that some vacancies are proving harder to fill in certain sectors or parts of the country, meaning that some job postings are being kept up for a longer time than would ordinarily be the case. Whatever the reason, we should get a clearer picture in the first few weeks of the New Year.

“With redundancy levels now moving beyond levels we saw during the Financial Crisis, 2021 is going to be a critical year for the nation to rebuild, reskill and get back to work.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. The Jobs Recovery Tracker is produced by the REC in partnership with Emsi, using their Job Postings Analytics data which is harvested from tens of thousands of job boards. Data was harvested between 23 November and 6 December 2020. For more details, see the attached annexes which, in league table format, detail the top and bottom ten county/unitary authorities for growth in job postings and growth by occupation type.
  2.  ‘Active’ job postings are those which were live online during the specified time period. ‘New’ job postings are those which were added to the active stock during the specified time period.
  3. The Jobs Recovery Tracker will be published every two to three weeks to complement the REC’s bank of surveys including the Report on Jobs and JobsOutlook, which provide a picture of recruitment activity and employers’ confidence and hiring intentions.

For more information and interview enquiries, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, 020 7009 2192 or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.

The REC is the voice of the recruitment industry, speaking up for great recruiters. We drive standards and empower recruitment businesses to build better futures for great candidates and themselves. We are champions of an industry which is fundamental to the strength of the UK economy.

Find out more about the Recruitment & Employment Confederation at

Emsi’s goal is to help local, regional and national economies function more effectively through helping people make better decisions relating to the world of work. To achieve this, we employ a team of expert economists, data scientists and software programmers to build a dataset that is highly granular, extremely robust, and easy to use. Emsi was founded in Idaho in 2000 and now serves clients in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Find out more at


Top ten and bottom ten county/unitary authorities for growth in job postings:

County/unitary authority

Unique active job postings, 30 November-6 December

Change in active job postings, 23-29 November to 30 November-6 December

East Lothian & Midlothian









Bridgend & Neath Port Talbot



Isle of Wight






Bournemouth & Poole



Derry City & Strabane



East Riding of Yorkshire









South Ayrshire



East Dunbartonshire



Ards & North Down



Scottish Borders



Causeway Coast & Glens



East Derbyshire



East Merseyside



Dumfries & Galloway



Redbridge & Waltham Forest



Mid Lancashire




Top ten and bottom ten occupations by growth in job postings:


Unique active job postings, 30 November-6 December

Change in active job postings, 23-29 November to 30 November-6 December




Therapy professionals n.e.c.



Veterinary nurses



Undertakers, mortuary and crematorium assistants



Dispensing opticians



Medical practitioners



Fitness instructors



Conservation professionals












Painters and decorators



Typists and related keyboard occupations



Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers



Roofers, roof tilers and slaters



Market research interviewers



Elementary storage occupations



Glaziers, window fabricators and fitters



Welding trades



Health associate professionals n.e.c.



Taxation experts




Key indicator occupations


Unique active job postings, 30 November-6 December

Change in active job postings, 23-29 November to 30 November-6 December

Metal working production and maintenance fitters



Carpenters and joiners



Large goods vehicle drivers



Sales and retail assistants



Waiters and waitresses



Bar staff






Programmers and software development professionals



Chartered and certified accountants



Cleaners and domestics



Primary and nursery education teaching professionals



Care workers and home carers






Fitness instructors



Hairdressers and barbers