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May sees workers hold off for Brexit result before switching roles

Employees put off moving jobs in May as EU Referendum uncertainty led to fewer available vacancies, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk.

Company Profile


  • Advertised vacancies drop to 1,150,149 in May, down 0.6% month-on-month, as EU referendum jitters mean companies cut back on hiring
  • Two-thirds of UK regions see fewer advertised positions, with London bearing the brunt of Brexit uncertainty as number of vacancies fall by 4,017 to total 248,371 in May
  • May sees average advertised salary slide to £33,062 falling 1.2% from April, the largest monthly slide seen in 21 months as employers scale back staff spending
  • Creative sectors enjoy mid-year boost, as Creative & Design Sector sees average salaries rise 3.8% annually and Marketing & PR roles enjoy 2.8% yearly increase
  • Twice the number of jobs on offer than people to fill them, as job competition falls to 0.52 jobseekers per vacancy but chronic skills shortage continues

Employees put off moving jobs in May as EU Referendum uncertainty led to fewer available vacancies, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk.

May saw 1,150,149 vacancies on offer, dropping 0.6% on a monthly basis from 1,156,810 in April. This marked the second consecutive monthly fall in advertised positions, as uncertainty surrounding the outcome of June’s EU Referendum saw employers adopt a new financial caution. A temporary hiring halt is spreading across the UK as two-thirds of regions saw monthly vacancy falls with companies waiting out the result before taking on new talent.

Advertised salaries also fell in May to stand at £33,062, down 1.2% from the previous month, the largest monthly fall in 21 months, in a further sign that employers are cutting back on hiring in more senior positions. Salaries on offer for jobseekers have dipped sharply over the last two months after beginning to gain momentum at the start of the year.

Job competition in May reduced to 0.52 jobseekers per vacancy, decreasing from 0.72 in May 2015, as twice as many positions were available than those seeking work. Falling competition and falling vacancies suggest people are moving into work from unemployment, rather than moving jobs. The latest ONS figures reveal the unemployment rate fell to 5.0% – the lowest it has been in over 10 years.   

Table 1:


April 2016

 May 2016



Annual change from May 2015

UK Vacancies





Jobseekers per Vacancy





Av. Advertised UK Salary





Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “May marked a nervous month for employers. It’s hard to imagine life after the Brexit debate but companies need to adapt quickly to this leap into the unknown. Thankfully, short-term volatility shouldn’t cause lasting damage to job prospects. We have a strong and open economy, which has led the tech sector to thrive. This can continue. It’s crucial to keep up our relationship and trade with European countries, and others, to drive growth and momentum. Hiring has been particularly hurt by uncertainty in the run-up to the vote, as senior workers rode out the political storm before hopping companies. Lower-paid roles, such as temporary summer jobs, have been less impacted.

“After the political debate quietens, ongoing problems within the jobs market will re-surface. And the chronic skills shortage is threatening key industries. Science, IT and Engineering have all been hit. To tackle this new pushes are needed, like investment in homegrown talent. But vital overseas workers are finding it harder to enter the country due to visa clampdowns – putting pressure on healthcare. Brexit debate and talks of an Australian-style points system have shown the need for skilled workers from abroad. They are a crucial part of Britain’s workforce – and keep many sectors afloat.”

Majority of the UK hit by May jobs market blues

Two-thirds of UK regions saw advertised vacancies fall in May with London seeing the largest decline. Vacancies in the capital fell to 248,371, dropping by 4,017 – the largest number across the whole of the UK. This slide equalled a monthly dip of -1.6%.

Table 2: UK regions by declines in advertised vacancies


Average Vacancies

Monthly vacancy change

Monthly Change





North West




Yorkshire & The Humber




East Midlands








Northern Ireland




South West








North East




West Midlands




Eastern England




South East




Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “All regions are feeling the strain of uncertainty within the jobs market right now. And caution is radiating across the country. London, usually resilient to falls in confidence, has seen a large monthly dip. Fewer choices are placing jobhunters in a difficult place but this may be a temporary blip. A stutter in regional economies across the UK could stop now a decision has been reached if political uncertainties are resolved quickly. At some point, employers will begin to open their doors again and the hunt for new talent shall resume.”           

Creative summer ahead as Marketing, Advertising, PR & Creative roles all see salary gains

Creative industries have seen a May increase in average advertised salaries. Joining the creative and design sector, which saw average advertised salaries rise to £31,517, were Marketing, Advertising & PR Roles. Applicants to this industry can now expect an average salary of £35,465, 2.4% higher than the £34,630 average on offer in May 2015.

Table 3: Biggest improvers – job sectors by average salary

Job Sector

 Average advertised salary

Annual Salary % Change

Consultancy Jobs



Creative & Design Jobs



Maintenance Jobs



Property Jobs



PR, Advertising & Marketing Jobs



Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, concludes: “Communicating key messages to customers is becoming more crucial for many businesses. In our consumer-driven economy, brand image is growing in importance – and companies are willing to pay big to get their brand out there. Global competition is also making this more important than ever. This shift is giving the PR, Advertising and Marketing sector a real value boost and new employees can expect more pay for their skills. Social media is now driving communication – and companies want to make sure they think before they speak.”

Trouble brewing for the teaching sector

The teaching sector could be set to struggle after the summer holidays. Average advertised pay has fallen to £26,301, dropping 7.0% from £28,283 in May 2015. Teaching vacancies meanwhile continue to grow, climbing to 62,470 in May, a monthly rise of 3.0% suggesting it’s getting harder to attract new talent to the industry.

Table 4: Worst Decliners – job sectors by average salary

Job Sector

 Average advertised salary

Annual Salary % Change

Legal Jobs



Energy, Oil & Gas Jobs



Social Work Jobs



Graduate Jobs



Teaching Jobs



Improving UK job competition little comfort to North East jobseekers

Jobseekers in the North East are continuing to face tougher odds in the race to secure a job. Sunderland saw 3.20 jobseekers per vacancy in May, with Hull (2.98) and Middlesbrough (2.59) closely behind.


Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “A mismatch across the country is not a healthy sign for the UK jobs market. Jobseekers in the North East are probably feeling frustrated and feel like a good job is out of reach. This may be why areas like Sunderland voted to leave the EU, feeling disillusioned and hoping for better job prospects. What the area needs is more attention from Westminster. Attention, investment and skills initiatives – all could make a real difference in transforming the fortunes of those out of work in the region.”