Ex-industrial areas face high unemployment and fewer vacancies

Derry had one of the highest unemployment-vacancy ratios in April Shutterstock

The number of unemployed people per vacancy increased dramatically as the lockdown took hold, with coastal areas and former industrial heartlands facing the highest unemployment-to-vacancy ratios.

In April, unemployment benefit claimant-vacancy ratios were highest in northern England, the south of Scotland, Northern Ireland, parts of Wales and coastal towns, according to the Institute for Employment Studies.

Derry and Strabane had the largest number of unemployed individuals per job vacancy, with 108.2 people per vacancy in April, up from 37.5 claims per vacancy in March. Redcar and Cleveland; Hartlepool and South Tyneside; Haringey; Telford and Wrekin; and Tameside also had particularly high ratios in both months.

The IES said areas where people were struggling to find work before the coronavirus crisis were the worst hit and saw the greatest increase in their unemployment-vacancy ratios. For example, areas with more than 15 unemployment benefit claims per vacancy in March had an average increase in their ratios by 21 claims per vacancy, while areas with less than 0.5 claims per vacancy in March had an average increase of 1.15 extra claims per vacancy.

It said: “The worst affected areas, in terms of typologies, are those with a significant industrial legacy, covering the central belt of Scotland, parts of Wales, and parts of the North of England, and ethnically diverse metropolitan areas which include outer London Boroughs and districts such as Birmingham, Leicester, Luton, and Slough.

“Areas classified as Affluent England and the cosmopolitan parts of London (mainly inner London boroughs) had some of the lowest claimant-vacancy ratios before the crisis began. However, Affluent England experienced the largest proportional increase in the number of unemployed claimants per vacancy, while London Cosmopolitan experienced the lowest proportional increase of this ratio. Even after these increases, the claimant-vacancy ratios in both areas still remained lower than those seen before the lockdown in the industrial heartlands and other disadvantaged areas.”

The analysis is based on Office for National Statistics unemployment data and vacancy data collected by Adzuna. As at 15 March 2020, Adzuna was listing 820,000 UK vacancies, but by 24 May this had fallen to 331,000.

However, there have been some signs of recovery with Adzuna reporting that the number of vacancies had increased by 16,000, or 5%, in the week following the 24 May.

Occupations with the latest percentage drop in the number of jobs being posted between 12 March and 24 May included hospitality/catering (84%); administration (79%); consultancy (79%); and HR/recruitment (78%). Sales had one of the highest drops in both percentage change (84%) and total number of jobs decline (56%).

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