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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Jobs Recovery Tracker: Increase in new job adverts as COVID restrictions start to lift

Press releases

  • 146,000 new job adverts posted in the third week of March, giving a total of 1.29 million active job adverts in the UK
  • Higher numbers of new job postings in past two weeks suggest increase in hiring as the economy starts to re-open
  • Rise in job adverts for veterinary nurses, bricklayers, sales and retail assistants, as well as roles in hospitality
  • East and West Dunbartonshire remained hiring hotspots in mid-March, while the biggest fall was on the Isle of Wight

In the third week of March, there were 146,000 new job adverts posted in the UK. This follows a further 179,000 in the previous week – the two highest weekly figures since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The labour market has been remarkably resilient through the latest national lockdown, and this increase in new job adverts could indicate a growing number of businesses looking to bring in new staff in the coming months as restrictions ease.

In contrast, the number of active job postings in the UK fell to 1.29 million in mid-March, a drop of 1.8% week-on-week, as more adverts expired and were removed from job sites. This churn in the jobs market is likely to reflect the changes that are taking place in the economy, as some sectors and regions grow and others struggle.

There has also been a higher proportion of job adverts for temporary roles in recent weeks – showing how important these roles are as businesses prepare to emerge from the third lockdown. Temporary roles represented around 16.3% of all active job adverts in mid-March 2021, compared to 15.1% in early July 2020 as the first lockdown was eased, and 14.0% in mid-March 2020. 

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“The fact that we have just had the best two weeks for new jobs postings since last March is a sure sign of the resilience of our jobs market, and the hard work recruiters are doing to get people into roles. There are particularly positive signs for the retail, leisure and hospitality industries, as businesses in those sectors look to prepare for re-opening. And we continue to see the importance of temporary work in helping businesses and workers get back on their feet.

“As we reach the tail end of the pandemic, job creation is returning. But it’s clear that the recovery will not recreate exactly the same economy as we had before. Pathways into work matter – especially for young people, who have been most severely affected by the last year. But so do job transitions into growing sectors that are already facing labour and skills shortages. Reforming our skills system, including the apprenticeship levy, and making the new immigration system work more effectively for our economy will be key debates in the months and years to come.”

In the third week of March the occupation with the highest increase in active job postings was veterinary nurses (+14.3%) and there were also increased demand for bricklayers (+13.6%) and therapy professionals (+9.4%). 

The next phases of the government’s roadmap to ease restrictions are approaching, and it is encouraging to see growing numbers of adverts for roles in hospitality, as this sector was one of the hardest hit by restrictions. There were increases in postings for cooks (+10.1%), kitchen and catering assistants (+7.6%), bar staff (+5.8%), and hotel and accomodation managers (+5.6%) in mid-March. 

There are also indications that the service and leisure industries are gearing up and preparing to re-open. Managers and directors in the retail and wholesale sector (+12.2%), sales and retail assistants (+9.7%), and sports and leisure assistants (+6.3%) were all among the top ten occupations that saw an increase in job adverts from the previous week.

On a local level, six of the top ten hiring hotspots last week were in Scotland. East and West Dunbartoshire topped the list (+4.7% and +4.4% respectively), followed by the Scottish Borders (+3.8%) and Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire & Renfreshire (+3.5%).

At the other end of the spectrum, the steepest fall in weekly job postings was recorded in the Isle of Wight (-20.5%), followed by Sefton (-10.2%) and Bournemouth & Poole (-8.9%). 

Matthew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi said:

“The data continues to show an upward trend in employer demand, with new postings reaching levels not seen since before the first lockdown a year ago. This suggests that many employers currently have a good degree of confidence for the future, and it is especially interesting to see a rise in demand for jobs in those industries which have been hardest hit by lockdowns – particularly retail and hospitality – an indication that many businesses in these sectors are getting prepared for re-opening. Of course we will need to continue monitoring how things develop, but this clearly shows things moving in a positive direction.”


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 8 March and 21 March 2021. 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.

For more information and interview enquiries, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, 020 7009 2129 or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.

About Emsi

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, 15-21 March Change in active job postings, 8-14 March to 15-21 March
East Dunbartonshire 378 +4.7%
West Dunbartonshire 715 +4.4%
Scottish Borders 1,183 +3.8%
Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire & Renfrewshire 2,749 +3.5%
Greater Manchester North West 7,165 +3.0%
South Lanarkshire 2,278 +3.0%
East Riding of Yorkshire 3,273 +2.8%
Northumberland 2,920 +2.7%
West Lothian 2,268 +2.0%
Conwy & Denbighshire 3,019 +1.8%
Chorley & West Lancashire 2,597 -4.4%
Flintshire & Wrexham 3,742 -4.6%
Derry City & Strabane 1,306 -4.6%
Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon 1,616 -4.9%
Mid Lancashire 18,988 -5.0%
Causeway Coast & Glens 544 -7.3%
Dorset 5,894 -7.5%
Bournemouth & Poole 6,341 -8.9%
Sefton 2,471 -10.2%
Isle of Wight 1,051 -20.5%


Top ten and bottom ten occupations by growth in job postings

Occupation Unique active job postings, 15-21 March Change in active job postings, 8-14 March to 15-21 March
Veterinary nurses 832 +14.3%
Bricklayers and masons 1,710 +13.6%
Managers and directors in retail and wholesale 7,123 +12.2%
Sales and retail assistants 10,810 +9.7%
Therapy professionals n.e.c. 442 +9.4%
Farm workers 342 +8.6%
Kitchen and catering assistants 11,976 +7.6%
Sports and leisure assistants 849 +6.3%
Ophthalmic opticians 1,280 +6.1%
Large goods vehicle drivers 5,687 +5.9%
Finance officers 1,113 -6.2%
Industrial cleaning process occupations 1,364 -6.3%
Housing officers 2,759 -6.9%
Business and related associate professionals n.e.c. 22,383 -9.9%
Hairdressers and barbers 969 -10.6%
Dental nurses 1,980 -10.7%
Animal care services occupations n.e.c. 472 -11.3%
Travel agents 1,579 -11.5%
Driving instructors 1,031 -22.0%
Legal secretaries 2,411 -27.9%


Key indicator occupations

Occupation Unique active job postings, 15-21 March Change in active job postings, 8-14 March to 15-21 March
Metal working production and maintenance fitters 20,222 -0.3%
Carpenters and joiners 4,762 +4.1%
Large goods vehicle drivers 5,687 +5.9%
Sales and retail assistants 10,810 +9.7%
Waiters and waitresses 1,104 +1.4%
Bar staff 1,385 +5.8%
Chefs 12,631 +3.9%
Programmers and software development professionals 58,848 -1.0%
Chartered and certified accountants 3,357 +0.4%
Cleaners and domestics 14,355 +0.2%
Primary and nursery education teaching professionals 33,506 -1.8%
Care workers and home carers 40,060 -2.9%
Nurses 74,746 -1.4%
Fitness instructors 2,836 +4.0%
Hairdressers and barbers 969 -10.6%