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UK – Advertised salaries at a 16-month low

31 January 2014

The average salary offered for a new job has fall across the UK to a sixteen month low, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk. The average advertised salary has fallen by -4.1% in the past twelve months, to just £32,323 in December 2013. This equals a drop in wages of £2,136 in real terms and marks the third consecutive month in which advertised salaries have fallen.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, explained: “The recovery in the jobs market is far from over. The great news is unemployment has fallen at record levels, but wages are still stuck in a post-recession hangover – while the backlog of employees waiting for the right time to change jobs is clearing, salary levels are yet to catch up. Compared with this time last year, there are fewer people fighting it out for each position, but the chances of securing a decent salary have become slimmer.”

Annual advertised pay declined in every region, with the exception of Wales during the twelve months to December. The East of England and the West Midlands bore the brunt of the fall, with the average salary dropping by -8.4% and -6.9%, respectively, in these regions. Salaries in Wales increase by +4.1% over the twelve months to December, reaching an average of £28,121. Salaries in Wales are now at their highest point since August 2012.

A few sectors have managed to navigate the salary slump, and witnessed an increase in advertised salary in December.

Salaries in the Hospitality and Catering sector increased by +6.6% to £19,234 in the year to December 2013, the largest increase of any UK sector. The industry also saw a monthly increase of +1% between November and December.

Other sectors to record salary increases in December included Engineering (+5.1%) and the Energy, Oil and Gas sector (+1.5%). In both skilled sectors, a skills shortage has resulted in fewer skilled workers vying for each role and employers have increased salaries as a means to attract talent.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the sectors that have suffered most severely from the salary slump include Healthcare (-3.4%) and Teaching (-1.8%). Public sector cuts have taken a toll on budgets, and salaries have been squeezed, as a result. 

The number of job vacancies in December was +11.9% higher than a year ago, with 744,665 positions on offer. This was despite a slight monthly decrease from November, typical of a seasonal slowdown.

Compared to the previous year, competition for jobs fell by almost a third (-30%) in December. Compared with the previous month, a slight fall in the number of advertised vacancies meant that competition for jobs increased by +1.3% in December, to 1.61 jobseekers for each advertised vacancy. 

  November 2013 December 2013 Month Change Annual change
UK Vacancies 768,289 744,665 -3.1% +11.9%
Jobseekers per Vacancy 1.59 1.61 +1.3% -30.0%
Av. Advertised UK Salary £32,651 £32,323 -1.0% -4.1%

A prominent North-South divide persists in the labour market. Nine of the top 10 cities to find a job were in the South of the UK, and seven of the worst ten cities to find a job still based in the North. Cambridge was the best city in the UK to find a job in December, with just 0.22 jobseekers per vacancy.  It was almost 100 times more difficult to get a job in Salford. The second most difficult city in the UK to find a work (with 20.54 jobseekers per vacancy).

There are, however, a few signs that the situation is improving for some industrial pockets in the North. Wolverhampton may be the seventh worst city in the UK to find a job, but competition for vacancies in the city is falling rapidly and has dropped by -38% over the last six months, bolstered by a strong service sector, and growing manufacturing and engineering industries.  

Andrew Hunter comments: “Several local industry hubs are fighting back. Competition for jobs in both Sunderland and Wolverhampton have eased dramatically since July, as more vacancies have opened up.  Wolverhampton has the added bonus of having growing manufacturing and engineering industries, where business confidence is encouraging investment and boosting salaries.”

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