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In the first week of August, the number of job advertisements in the UK rose to the highest weekly total since lockdown began according to an analysis by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.

The analysis found that there were 1.10 million active job postings in the week starting 3 August, up from 1.04 million in the previous week. However, this remains below the 1.35 million job postings active before lockdown in the first week of March.

Last week also saw the highest number of new job postings since lockdown began, with almost 126,000 adverts posted between 3-9 August. The previous high was the first week of June, with 112,000 new postings.

REC’s data found that the growth in job adverts spanned almost the entire country. While the largest weekly increase was in Redbridge & Waltham Forest (23.7%), four of the top ten hiring hotspots were in Northern Ireland: Derry City & Strabane (11.5%), Ards & North Down (11.0%), Fermanagh & Omagh (9.2%) and Causeway Coast & Glens (8.7%). Overall, Northern Ireland saw a weekly rise in job postings of 6.3%.

According to the REC, there were only five counties/unitary authorities where the number of job postings fell compared to the previous week with the biggest falls in Swindon (-11.5%) and North Ayrshire (-15.6%).

The data also showed there was a notable rise in job adverts for gardeners (24.8%). There have also been further increases in postings for construction workers (15.8%), painters and decorators (14.1%), bricklayers (13.3%) and LGV (large good vehicle) drivers (+14.0%). Demand has also increased for childminders (12.1%) and play workers (16.9%).

The REC added that with many people falling on hard times because of the pandemic, there has also been a rise in adverts for debt collectors (20.9%).

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said, “The latest economic data tell a stark story of the scale of the lockdown recession, but now it is all about how quickly we recover. Many firms will face cash struggles in September and October, so redundancies will be with us for months to come and unemployment will rise. But a recovery is underway, as today’s tracker data shows. Construction sites have re-opened, logistics companies are dealing with high demand, and with people spending more time at home, many have been looking to spruce up their house and gardens. The increase in adverts for childminders and playworkers is interesting and perhaps linked to more people returning to offices and workplaces in the near future.”

“It’s important to remember that we are not just passengers in all of this – we have tools available that can minimise the unemployment increase that is coming,” Carberry added. “Absent a major second wave of the virus, the government needs to make sure all its actions boost the recovery rather than put the brakes on. Supporting retention and hiring by lowering employers’ National Insurance would be a good start. There should also be a greater sense of urgency on things like the private sector job search support scheme announced by the Chancellor in July. And of course we need skills reform and a Brexit deal that helps firms to trade freely with Europe.”

REC’s vacancy data compares to Broadbean Technology’s job vacancy data which showed a 14% week on week increase at the beginning of August.