Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Indeed’s Mid-Year UK update shows job postings down 20%

Meanwhile, with immigration a hot topic pre-election, foreign interest in UK jobs remains high, but the roles these jobseekers are drawn to remain hard-to-fill, potentially as barriers remain in hiring overseas talent.

  • Job postings on Indeed are down 20% over the past year as labour market softens
  • Despite this cooling, wage growth has risen to a four-month high of 6.5% year-on-year, led by lower-paid jobs
  • Foreign jobseeker interest is up 40% since pre-Covid, but the roles they’re drawn to remain hard-to-fill, meaning barriers remain in hiring this talent
  • Percentage of jobs offering flexible work remains strong despite return to office calls 

Global matching and hiring platform, Indeed's UK Mid-Year Labour Market Update shows that in the run-up to the General Election, the labour market is softening as job postings are down 20% over the past year and are now 0.9% below 1 February 2020 levels. 

Meanwhile, with immigration a hot topic pre-election, foreign interest in UK jobs remains high, but the roles these jobseekers are drawn to remain hard-to-fill, potentially as barriers remain in hiring overseas talent. 

Job postings slow - but wage pressures remain strong, particularly in lower-paid roles 

Despite the labour market cooling, some job categories buck the trend. This is led by education, which is experiencing job postings more than double their pre-pandemic level. This comes as some MPs have said that excessive workload is creating the chronic staff shortages in English state schools. Social science and estate agents round out the top three roles that have seen the highest growth in postings. Conversely, tech roles have had one of the biggest hiring slowdowns since February 2020, alongside beauty & wellness. 

In spite of the broader labour market adjustment, the Indeed Wage Tracker shows that posted wage growth for new hires rose to a four-month high of 6.5% year-on-year in May. Typically lower-paying categories including childcare (wages up 8.6% year-on-year), cleaning & sanitation (8.5%), security & public safety (8.5%), loading & stocking (8.2%), retail (8.1%) and hospitality & tourism (8.0%) exhibited the strongest growth in wages. The large minimum wage uplift that went into effect in April 2024 continues to be a factor supporting this, alongside tight occupation-specific hiring conditions

Additionally, a further increase in inactivity underlines the challenge facing the next government in bringing more workers into the labour force. According to ONS figures, some 9.3 million workers are currently inactive, up by 883,000 people since the eve of the pandemic. Long-term sickness remains a key concern amid near-record NHS waiting lists.

Certain roles remain hard-to-fill, despite foreign jobseeker interest 

With immigration featuring prominently in election campaigning, foreign interest has more than doubled from its pandemic lows. The share of searches for UK jobs from abroad stood at 5.2% in May 2024, up from a low of 2.4% in March 2020 and up 40% from its pre-Covid average over the period from 2017 to 2019 (3.4%). 

Post-Brexit immigration policy, favouring the high-skilled end of the labour market, is reflected in the jobs attracting foreign interest, with roles in tech, engineering, healthcare and finance seeing the most traction. 

However, many of the jobs attracting foreign jobseeker interest remain hard-to-fill, including engineers and architects. That could suggest some businesses are overlooking talent, or that the barriers to hiring foreign jobseekers are prohibitive, with the minimum salary for skilled work visas having risen by nearly 50% to £38,700 in April 2024. Persistent shortages may be an area that the elected government could look to address. 

Unsurprisingly, the countries most interested in UK jobs differ from pre-Brexit. Whereas EU countries used to dominate interest, Anglosphere and former Commonwealth countries now feature prominently. Jobseekers in India are the most interested in UK jobs (16%), followed by the US (6%) and Pakistan (5%). Meanwhile, the top three EU countries interested in UK jobs only make up 9% of searches. 

Jobseekers remain keen on flexibility 

Despite some employers pushing return-to-office policies, the share of job postings mentioning remote or hybrid work has remained steady at around 15% of job postings so far in 2024, a similar level to one year ago but up from 13% in May 2022. 

This strategy is wise for businesses looking to gain an edge in candidate attraction, as according to Indeed’s recent survey of 2,000 British people, almost half (44%) of Brits say flexibility is more important to them than it’s ever been. In fact, over a third (36%) say that they wouldn’t take a role if it didn’t offer flexible working. Job searches on Indeed reiterate this, as around 2.4% of searches contained remote/hybrid terminology as of the end of May, with the share remaining stable since 2022. 

Of course, many jobs can’t be done remotely. Four-day work weeks, which certain Labour frontbenchers have also been positive towards, remain a niche part of the labour market, with just 0.8% of job postings mentioning these arrangements as of May 2024, though the share has been rising over the past six years (it was under 0.3% in January 2018). 

The prevalence of four-day work weeks is highest among categories where remote and hybrid work is lowest, as veterinary jobs (18.5%), childcare (3.1%) and dental (2.9%) are the categories with the highest shares of four-day work week postings. 

Jack Kennedy, Senior Economist at the global matching and hiring platform Indeed said: 

“The UK labour market has continued its adjustment in recent months, though it remains somewhat tight and still competitive for employers in many sectors. Highly skilled jobs tend to always be harder to recruit for as they are naturally relevant to a smaller candidate pool. However, there is strong foreign interest in some of these jobs, meaning UK businesses may want to look at jobseekers from outside the country to fill gaps. While lower-paid jobs are generally easier to recruit for as the candidate pool is larger, persistently higher inactivity post-pandemic and post-Brexit immigration policy have made it harder than it used to be for employers to fill these roles. Tackling inactivity, a longer-term skills strategy and the role of immigration in addressing labour shortages will be agenda items for the elected government. 

“Alongside pay, flexibility remains a key tool for employers in the battle for talent. This is clearly top of mind for voters, with many saying they wouldn’t take a role if it didn’t offer flexibility. For those employers who can’t offer remote or hybrid roles, greater choice around shift patterns or even a four-day work week may be an alternative way to provide candidates with flexibility. A shortened working week currently remains a niche offering, meaning businesses who offer it may stand out to jobseekers.”