Deserted high streets and city centres are hampering Britain’s jobs recovery, with Aberdeen and Edinburgh seeing the steepest declines in vacancies.
A report by the Centre for Cities think tank revealed the Granite City recorded a 75% fall in vacancies year-on-year, while the capital saw a 57% drop.
The research by the think tank – in collaboration with global job site Indeed – found that seven months after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, job vacancies have failed to return to pre-Covid levels in all 63 towns and cities they analysed.
The report said local lockdowns and the rise in people working from home has dried up demand for local services in big cities, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Andrew Carter, Centre for Cities’ chief executive, said: “While unemployment continues to rise, the number of jobs available to people who find themselves out of work is far below its level last year in every single large city and town in the UK.
“This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy.
“The (UK) Government has told us to expect a tough winter and, while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead.”
While no area of the country or sector has escaped the labour market crisis, those where high street footfall returned to normal more quickly have seen a faster recovery in job vacancies, the report said.
Pawel Adrjan, EMEA head of research at the global job site Indeed, said: “The timid recovery in job vacancies is a portent of the distress towns and cities could face if restrictions continue to spring up in parts of the country already reeling from imposed lockdowns and reduced footfall.
“With the remote work trend showing no sign of abating – and entire regions being placed under stricter control – service jobs in large towns and cities could become scarcer still and pull the UK into a jobs spiral. That could mean a very long winter ahead for the millions of people currently unemployed.”
Cities and towns with the largest drops in job vacancies:
- Aberdeen -75%
- Edinburgh -57%
- Belfast -55%
- Crawley -55%
- Aldershot -54%
- London -52%
The report’s publication comes just days before the UK Government’s Jobs Retention Scheme draws to a close.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week announced an emergency multi-billion pound bailout aimed at supporting workers and firms through the second coronavirus wave.
The Job Support Scheme, which replaces the current furlough system from November 1, will be made more generous in an effort to persuade firms to keep staff in work.
An HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve put in place a comprehensive plan to protect, support and create jobs in every region of the UK, and recently increased the generosity of our winter support schemes, including our expanded Job Support Scheme, which will protect jobs in businesses that are open or closed.
“We are also providing additional funding for local authorities and devolved administrations to support local businesses.”