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Salary stagnation bites despite record number of people in work

Average salaries increased slightly to £32,420 (up 0.3%) in January, but wages fell annually across all regions in the UK, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk.

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Wales was showing promising signs of salary growth in December (up 0.5% year-on-year)  however, January’s figures show salaries have fallen by 1.5% in the 12 months to January to currently stand at £29,248. Similarly in Northern Ireland which had showed recent signs of promise, year-on-year salary growth declined from -1.1% in December to -2.2% in January.

Salaries in London have experienced the highest annual decline and are now 4.1% lower than January 2016. The total number of advertised roles in the capital stands at 244,876 with typical salaries of £38,547, the highest number of vacancies and salaries within the labour market.

According to the latest figures from the ONS UK House Price Index, average house prices in the UK have increased by 7.2% in the year to December 2016. Despite slight month-on-month salary recovery, longer term stagnation in wages means employees’ affordability has been stretched. With other outgoings such as travel expenses and utility bills also increasing, spending power is being impacted on a number of fronts.

The employment rate stands at 74.6%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971 according to the ONS. This has been helped by a record proportion of women in work, with so-called ‘returnships’ – a type of later-life work experience helping older people, predominantly women back into the workplace – boosting the figures. Immigration may have tailed off in the wake of Brexit, but this also previously helped stimulate the jobs market. As a result of the record number of people in work, it is to be expected that the number of vacancies has cooled somewhat, with the available opportunities falling to a 12-month low of 1,088,353.

Table 1: Total advertised vacancies and UK salary


January 2016

December 2016


Annual change from January 2016

UK Vacancies





Jobseekers per Vacancy





Av. Advertised UK Salary






Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, explains: “With the average house price in the capital now £484,000 according to latest ONS figures, it is alarming that London has the lowest year-on-year salary growth. Looking at the bigger picture, wages have flatlined for some time and affordability concerns for employees and jobseekers will come into play as disposable incomes are stretched.

“On a positive note, the employment rate has reached its highest point in terms of volume proving that there are a number of factors within the labour market as well as social factors such as more women in work, which are increasing productivity. In addition, competition per vacancy has increased, suggesting employers have more skilled workers to choose from.”

Creative & Design sector is top of the charts

With the rise of the gig economy and social media platforms, it is no surprise that creative and design jobs are rising up the ranks. In January, average salaries saw an annual increase of 2.2% to £31,828. The popularity of this sector has been driven by factors such as the new digital age as well as the expertise of graduates who step into the jobs market with a fresh outlook on social media channels such as Snapchat and Instagram, which are highly valuable to employees.

Similarly, healthcare & nursing has been ranked the UK’s best performing sector in terms of annual salary growth, despite severe financial restraints and excess demand within the NHS. Average salaries currently stand at £36,580 (up 5.3% year-on-year), remaining well above the national average salary for all sectors.

In terms of the most searched-for jobs on the Adzuna site, roles in hospitals were the second most popular search term, with only cleaning jobs proving more sought-after. Driving jobs rounded out the top three.

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, concludes: “The popularity of creative & design jobs proves the industry continues to blaze a trail within the jobs market. It is also promising to see healthcare & nursing jobs thriving given the negative media coverage surrounding the NHS. Despite the rise of FinTech and other tech-related jobs bursting onto the scene, a selection of jobseekers are still seeking more traditional roles.

“With Brexit on the horizon, the popularity of the healthcare & nursing sector looks uncertain, as the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that the NHS is at breaking point. However, the popularity of both sectors highlights the diversity of jobseekers in terms of those seeking traditional roles at the forefront of their job choices in comparison to jobseekers looking to break into creative industries.

“The post-Brexit economy looks uncertain for the jobs market, but it is encouraging to see both traditional and new, digital-age job roles evolving and creating a dynamic jobs market with a variety of options for jobseekers and employees wishing to switch roles.”

 Table 2: Best performing jobs sectors in the UK – annual salaries

Job Sector

 Average salary

Salary % 12 Month Change

Total Vacancies

Healthcare & Nursing Jobs




Property Jobs




Creative & Design Jobs




IT Jobs