Job vacancies soar, but not for high skills: The number of job vacancies has risen by a fifth compared with pre-pandemic levels, with particular demand for drivers and warehouse workers. The Times reports the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that unemployed people had more opportunities since the pandemic struck, with vacancy rates 20% above pre-covid levels for almost a year. However, the bulk of new jobs were in lower-paid and lower-skilled sectors, reflecting the shift towards online shopping since 2020. Last month the unemployment rate fell to its pre-pandemic level of 3.9% and there are concerns that high demand for workers and rising consumer prices will lead to higher wages that further entrench inflation in the economy. The IFS research found that even though there were more vacancies, there was “no correlation between vacancy growth in the latter halves of 2019 and 2021 and wage growth over the same period”. The Bank of England has said that several factors, including a fall in migration from the European Union and more people dropping out of the labour market, may have helped to create a smaller total workforce in recent years. This has led to companies complaining of staff shortages and increasing the bargaining power of workers to demand pay rises. Xiaowei Xu, senior research economist at the IFS, said the “shift towards lower-skilled occupations is particularly concerning” and may explain why wage growth has remained muted. Vacancies for drivers rose by 80% in the five months to February and doubled for warehouse workers, the institute found. (Extracted from Propel)


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