The race is on to heal the jobs market before furlough ends

Linda J. Dodson

Almost every industry reported some improvement, as retailers re-opened their doors and pubs, hotels and restaurants geared up for a relaunch last month.

Yet this is merely the first hint of light at the end of the tunnel, and remains faint and distant.

Back in February more than twice as many jobs were available, with 1.3m unemployed against more than 800,000 vacancies.

Now unemployment is oddly a touch lower, though ‘inactivity’ (those neither in work nor meeting the job-seeking criteria of the officially unemployed) rose by almost 270,000, and millions on the furlough scheme remain uncertain whether or not their jobs will return. As a result they are competing for this much smaller pool of vacancies.

Despite the latest increase, the 18,000 vacancies in hospitality represent just one-fifth of the number available a year ago. Finance and insurance vacancies remain down by half, at 17,000, and even the 103,000 positions on offer in human health and social work are one-quarter below their levels last year.

Lessons from history suggest a few months of growth is not enough to repair the harm of a crash.

In the financial crisis the number of vacancies fell by more than one-third and took around five years to recover, before really letting rip into the hiring boom of recent years.

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