Job vacancies on the rise - but what about the moolah?

Some rare cheer: vacancies are on the up in the private sector. But salary stats show the problems don't end once you get that offer...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 31 Jan 2011
The positive job figures come from the Reed Job Index, which rose 9 points to 113, the highest since the monthly index kicked off back in December 2009 (with the baseline figure of 100). Reed bases its list on the daily vacancies posted by 8,000 recruiters on its site. January's report showed a rise in the number to 104,740 – 9% up on December’s figure of 96,504.

So at least as far as Reed in concerned, job vacancies are 13% up on when the index started just over a year ago. That's positive news, given that in the current job market, the only thing you'd expect to be going up is the length of the dole queue.

But while the overall performance was better than expected, it’s largely down to the efforts of the private sector, where employers are seemingly doing their bit to make up for the dismal showing in the public sector. There are only half as many jobs going in the latter now as there were a year ago.

So where should jobseekers be looking? The index found a decent rise in vacancies in strong exporters like engineering and manufacturing, as well as the scientific sector and financial services – all favourites of the Government’s PR machine. A total of 17 sectors posted their best figures since the index was started. That’s something for the Coalition to shout about, as the PM tours the Old Street roundabout tech hub and tries to hush up the effect of the cuts elsewhere.

But it’s not all good news, sadly. Salaries were flat month-on-month, and 1% below the levels of a year ago. This will only mean extra pain for the pocket given the effect of inflation (not helped by the recent VAT increase). Real-terms salary rises were reported in just 10 of Reed’s 35 job sectors.

It seems there’s no guarantee that the jobseeker’s problems will suddenly fade away with the dotting of the ‘i’s on that new contract. Employment think-tank the Work Foundation has warned of the perils of ‘in-work poverty', saying that the ‘bottom ten million’ workers are still suffering. The Foundation says that the Government must ‘expand opportunities’ for around 10 million workers already struggling on less than £15,000 a year, as they’re the ones most vulnerable to wage reductions and job insecurity. And then there are those who can't even find a job in the first place...

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