ABERDEEN and Edinburgh have become worst in a UK-wide cities study revealing a slump in job vacancies during lockdown as the areas are more reliant on industries hit hardest by the economic fallout.

Urban areas in Scotland and south England are bearing the steepest declines in vacancies, the Centre for Cities found.

The think tank, and jobs site Indeed, found that seven months after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, job vacancies have failed to return to pre-Covid levels in all 63 towns and cities analysed.

Aberdeen recorded the steepest fall with a 75% year-on-year decline, followed by Edinburgh (57%), then Belfast and the West Sussex town of Crawley (both 55%).

READ MORE: Revealed - Scots shop closures hit record levels as footfall slumps by a third during lockdown

London has seen the sixth biggest fall in job postings at 52%, while overall UK vacancies are 46% behind last year's level, said the report.

The rise in people working from home has dried up demand for local services in big cities, it was indicated.

The think tank indicated that Aberdeen had been hardest hit because of stricter summer lockdown measures and its dependence on the oil and gas sector, which was hit through a high proportion of staff furloughs, redundancies and project cancellations.

In Edinburgh trading revenues in shops and cafes are said to have been down as much as 80% as tourists have stayed away during the pandemic.

The Scottish Retail Consortium has said that footfall across Scotland during October was down by almost a third, led by declines in Edinburgh and Glasgow where restrictions are more severe.


While no area of the UK or sector has escaped the labour market crisis, those where high street footfall returned to normal more quickly, such as Birkenhead, Chatham and Hull, have seen a faster recovery in job vacancies, the report said.

The report said the rise in people working from home has dried up demand for local services in big cities, with big cities such as Edinburgh - where remote work has been most feasible during the pandemic - among the places with the slowest recovery in job postings in local services businesses compared with last year.

In London 10.7% of job postings mention ‘remote work’ and in large cities with a population of over 600,000 the rate is 9.7%.

Elena Magrini, senior analyst at Centre for Cities said: "There are several reasons why Aberdeen and Edinburgh could have been particularly badly affected by the drop in job vacancies. Aberdeen had a particularly strict lockdown over summer, which may have contributed. Additionally, it’s dependence on one sector, oil, may be a contributing factor.

"In the case of Edinburgh, local services such as shops and restaurants are likely to have been affected by the drop in tourists and by people working from home."

New analysis revealed over the weekend that Scotland was bearing the brunt of UK high street decline during the lockdown with customer activity across the country dropping by nearly 40% on last year while permanent shop closures have now hit record levels.

New analysis shared with the Herald on Sunday which lay bare the crippling effect of lockdown on shops, pubs and restaurants across the country, revealed that as more and more people work from home and remain there during lockdown, the nation has with Wales seen the steepest regional drops in footfall over the past 12 months, raising fresh concerns about business failures and the end of the high street as we know it.

Research by the Local Data Company and PwC UK has revealed that net shop closures have hit record levels, more than doubling in Scotland in the first half of this year - and warn there is more pain expected.

The figures reveal that 703 chain operator outlets have permanently shut in Scotland this year so far, with 400 shops opening, creating a net decline of 393 a 125% rise on last year (176). It is the highest net decline for five years.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "While unemployment continues to rise, the number of jobs available to people who find themselves out of work is far below its level last year in every single large city and town in the UK. This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy.

"The Government has told us to expect a tough winter and while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead.

"The Chancellor made welcome amendments to the Job Support Scheme which should help save jobs, but many places across the country didn't have enough jobs before the pandemic hit so creating more will be vital to prevent long-term economic damage to their local economies."

According to Springboard, the consumer intelligence analysts, Scotland suffered a 37.8% drop in all shopping footfall since last year, a decline only bettered across UK regions by Wales, which has suffered a 38.1% drop.

And it is in the high streets that Scotland has really felt the footfall pain with a 20.4% drop in the week to October 11 alone - compared to a 4.5% decline across the UK.

Meanwhile footfall in Scotland’s retail parks during day time trading hours in September was just 7.7% lower than last year.

Pawel Adrjan, of Indeed, said: "The timid recovery in job vacancies is a portent of the distress towns and cities could face if restrictions continue to spring up in parts of the country already reeling from imposed lockdowns and reduced footfall.

"With the remote work trend showing no sign of abating, and entire regions being placed under stricter control, service jobs in large towns and cities could become scarcer still and pull the UK into a jobs spiral. That could mean a very long winter ahead for the millions of people currently unemployed."