When we looked at Claimant Counts for June, we saw that — somewhat surprisingly given the very sharp upward trend in April and May — the number of claimants had actually dropped slightly, from 2.66 million to 2.63 million. We posed the question as to whether this was a sign of things to come, or a brief hiatus in an otherwise upward trend.
In July’s figures, we don’t exactly get a definitive answer to that question. The numbers have risen once again, but nothing like the kinds of numbers we saw back in April and May. In those months, the number of claimants rose by 873,015 and 552,790 respectively. Following a fall of 72,515 in June, the numbers have now risen again, this time by 90,555 in July.
As with last month, we have plotted the changes for every local authority area in the country, and again you can see how the numbers have changed throughout the first half of the year by clicking on the play button at the bottom of the chart. At the start of the year, 72 out of 398 Local Authorities had more than 5,000 Claimant Counts, and as at July there are 171. The biggest rise in terms of numbers has been in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, with increased of 32,180, 19,345, and
Looking at the percentage change since the beginning of the year, we find that of the 398 Local Authorities across the country, every single one has seen a rise of at least 50% in claimants, and all but 87 have seen their numbers at least double. 54 have even seen numbers more than triple. When you click on the play button on the map below, you can see the huge shift taking place in April and May, as much of the country goes red (that is, with a more than 150% rise in numbers), falling back slightly in June, but with a return to red for many areas in July:
We can then take a closer look at those Local Authorities which have seen the biggest percentage rise throughout the year, and although there has not been a huge change in the numbers from June to July, or in their order in the Top 15, we can once again note that although the biggest initial rises in March and April were in areas that are reliant on tourism, which were hit very hard by the closure of the hospitality sector, it is noticeable that most of the biggest increases from May onwards have been in the South East and East of England, especially a number of areas in the London commuter belt, such as Woking, Surrey Heath, Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley:
Although the rise in Claimant Counts so far this year makes for grim reading, especially alongside the news this week that there are 730,000 fewer people on payroll than in March, and GDP having fallen by 22.1% in the first half of the year, we can see something of a glimmer of light when we look at job postings. We have been partnering with the Recruitment Employment Confederation for the last couple of months, supplying them with data for their Jobs Recovery Tracker, and this has been showing some positive signs in terms of employer demand. After a huge decline in job postings from February to May, there has been an increase in both June and July as many parts of the economy began to reopen after lockdown. Last week saw nearly 126,000 new job adverts — the highest weekly number since the start of the crisis — which is something that has been picked up by the BBC in a piece on 13th August.
REC’s Chief Executive, Neil Carberry, gave the following comment:
“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.”
Our Director of Workforce Intelligence, Matt Mee explained:
“In the midst of what is clearly a very difficult situation, the data revealed by the Jobs Recovery Tracker does at least give some glimmers of light. Firstly, the fact that there has been an uptick in postings across the country is an encouraging sign that some industries and businesses are coming out of what was an essentially frozen state, and are seeing sufficient demand to warrant taking on new employees. Secondly, it is interesting that most of the growth has come in blue collar occupations, such as painters and decorators, bricklayers, and construction workers. Jobseekers Allowance data released in June indicated that the biggest rise in claimants was in exactly these sorts of jobs. For instance, Elementary construction occupations, Construction operatives, Construction trades and Construction and building trades saw a rise of 140,000 claimants from March to June. Although we don’t yet know if this trend will continue, what today’s Jobs Recovery Tracker data suggests is that there may be some more positive signs for those in these sorts of skilled trades and low skilled jobs than the JSA data would suggest.”
We’ll be back with more analysis after the next release on 15th September, but if you would like to find out about the in-depth analysis we can offer you for your area, contact us now.