New research by the Centre for Cities suggests that local COVID-19 lockdowns are linked to a slowdown in recovery for the struggling job market across the UK.
To combat the spread of COVID-19, the UK government recently announced three tiers of local lockdowns that people in their respective areas must follow, depending on the level of infection risk in their areas. Depending on whether the region falls into the medium, high or very high tiers, the rules differ in terms of who you can meet and where you can meet them.
By analysing the number of new job postings in various locations, the think tank found that overall, the number of advertised vacancies in the UK is 46% behind the previous year's levels. Additionally, certain urban areas in Scotland and southern England have been the hardest hit in terms of employment opportunities. Aberdeen, for example, an area heavily reliant on its oil industry, suffered a decline of 75% in job vacancies in October, as compared to the previous years' figures. Edinburgh and Belfast were similarly impacted, showing falls of 57% and 55% in the number of job vacancies advertised.
The slowdown in hiring was also more pronounced in specific industries that have been significantly impacted by the new lockdown restrictions imposed in these parts, especially the arts, retail, and leisure sectors.
As the trend towards remote working continues and areas continue to remain under strict local lockdown regulations, a further reduction in job opportunities is expected to continue, especially as more businesses on the high street close, unable to cope with ongoing operating costs.
The data indicate a worrisome trend that could spell a potential barrier towards the longer-term recovery of the UK economy. Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said, "The 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."
The unemployment rate in the UK recently hit its highest levels in three years, with close to 750,000 jobs lost as a result of the pandemic. Millions of workers have been placed on furlough, with a large number of them expected to be permanently laid off, due to the discontinuation of government support schemes for employers.
While the government has pledged to protect nationwide employment through a comprehensive support plan, it is clear there is still have a long way to go for the UK's economic recovery.