THE number of job vacancies in Cheshire West and Cheshire East has more than halved during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past three months while the country has been in lockdown, the number of jobs in Cheshire West and East has decreased by more than 57 per cent, from 11,766 to 4,962.
That is according to the Institute for Employment Studies, which collected data from Adzuna – one of the UK’s largest online job search engines.
The think tank warns many people struggling before the pandemic will now be even worse off, and says much more must be done to support livelihoods.
There were 2,974 job vacancies in Cheshire West and Chester on June 14 – 61 per cent fewer than on March 15, the date the IES used as the benchmark for pre-crisis vacancy levels.
The figure was also 59 per cent lower than at the same time a year previously.
There were 1,988 job vacancies in Cheshire East on June 14 – 52 per cent fewer than on March 15, the date the IES used as the benchmark for pre-crisis vacancy levels.
The figure was 57 per cent lower than at the same time a year previously.
Across the country, the number of vacancies plunged to 367,000 on June 14 – 55 per cent lower than the 820,000 jobs advertised before the virus rocked the economy.
But there was huge variation between areas – Watford in Hertfordshire and Aberdeen both saw the biggest drop with 76 per cent fewer vacancies, while London’s Kensington and Chelsea saw a 127 per cent rise.
Tony Wilson, director of the IES, said: “This crisis has affected all parts of the economy, but it’s clear that it is hitting some places harder than others.
“Many of these areas were struggling before this crisis began and are in even more trouble now.
“We need to be doing much more both to support employment demand in the short term – for example by cutting employer National Insurance – and in the longer-term to support new industries and jobs.”
The think tank also compared the vacancy data to Office for National Statistics figures on the number of people claiming work-related benefits, such as Jobseekers Allowance and some forms of Universal Credit.
It found there were around four claimants per vacancy in Cheshire West and Chester in May, up from one in March, although the ONS has cautioned that changes to Universal Credit due to the virus mean more people could get help while still being employed.
But this was still significantly lower than the UK average of nine people chasing every listed job.
The IES report also found the ratio of claimants to vacancies was highest in ethnically diverse urban areas and ex-industrial communities.
Places where it was lowest included university towns and cities, and affluent areas in the East of England and the South East.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which funded the research, said the Government must focus on mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic as the economy reopens if it wants to follow through on its “levelling up” agenda and reduce regional inequalities.
Dave Innes, the foundation’s head of economics, said: “To make this ambition a reality, we need sustained investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country, as well as a social security system that supports people when they need it.”
Employment minister Mims Davies said: “We know it’s a challenging jobs market for many at the moment and some sectors have been hit particularly hard.
“That’s why we’ve taken unprecedented action to support our economy during this emergency, protecting millions of jobs and thousands of businesses through the furlough scheme, grants, loans and tax cuts.”
She added that levelling up opportunity will be “at the heart of the revival” of the economy.