Dorset labour market insights January-February 2021

Latest insights into Dorset's labour market 

As we entered 2021 and a fresh lockdown simultaneously, recruitment activity has been slower at the start of the year and the number of furloughed workers unfortunately picked up again. Yet, with some new players on the recruitment front and the Prime Minister’s roadmap to easing the restrictions outlined, things start to look a bit brighter ahead.

Key findings are also highlighted below and you can use the dashboard to explore the latest labour market developments. All our insights should be read in conjunction with the Understanding LMI during COVID-19 guidance on issues related to interpreting these statistics.

Key findings:

  • Recruitment activity slower 

As we entered the New Year and a new lockdown simultaneously, vacancies were unsurprisingly sluggish in January of 2021 compared to the previous years (down by a fifth on January 2020 in Dorset and by a quarter UK-wide). Vacancies also slightly declined in January from their December levels (down 2%, up 5% UK wide). However, despite the continued lockdown, the difference narrowed in February (down by only 4% in February compared to same time last year, 6% UK reference). 

There were 10,262 vacancies advertised in Dorset in the first two months of 2021, which is 87% of their 2020 reference levels before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Demand declined for service roles, but it considerably increased for nurses and carers, accountants, lawyers, web developers and cleaners. 

  • Unemployment and furlough 

There were 4.6 claimants for each advertised vacancy in February- a ratio three times as high as the pre-crisis levels, but showing improvement from the 7.5 peak in May. 

Claimant count remains high, accounting for 5% of the 16+ residents and 7% of 18- 24 year olds. Furloughed workers have increased again. The UK unemployment rate, in the three months to December 2020, was estimated at 5.1%, 1.3 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.4 percentage points higher than the previous quarter. In Dorset unemployment is traditionally lower with latest figures from September at 3.4%.

  • Top employers in Dorset at the start of 2021

While the National Health Service continued to be the top recruiter followed by J.P.Morgan, Bournemouth University, the Councils and residential care firms, Checkatrade joined the top of the chart as they are expanding in the South West and the Office for National Statistics was recruiting to support the Census.