UK job vacancies down by a third in December: REC

LONDON (Reuters) – British employers advertised 32% fewer job vacancies last month than they did in December 2022, industry figures showed on Friday in a further sign of a cooling in the hiring market which surged immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said there were 1.710 million jobs advertised in December, still a high number by historic standards but down sharply from 2.517 million a year earlier.

“The labour market weakened across 2023, especially for permanent roles. But it did so from a very high base,” REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said.

The Bank of England is watching Britain’s job market closely as it fears that it will be hard to return inflation to its 2% target on a permanent basis unless wage growth slows from its current rate of about 7% to around half that pace.

Carberry said there was anecdotal evidence that employers intended to step up hiring again in 2024.

The REC figures, which are compiled by employment data company Lightcast, show a comparable trend but significantly more job vacancies than figures from Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The most recent ONS data, for the three months to the end of November, showed there were 949,000 job vacancies, down by 19% from the same period in 2022. ONS figures for December are due on Tuesday.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)