London is leading a nationwide slump in job opportunities despite other countries managing to recover from pandemic-induced shutdowns.
Britain currently has 16pc fewer roles than it did a year ago but London's market was the worst-hit with a 46pc slump, according to jobs board Adzuna.
This comes as new figures show unemployment is rising at the fastest level since the financial crisis. Between October and December 2020, 1.74 million people were unemployed, up 454,000 in a year, according to the Office for National Statistics. That is the biggest annual increase since autumn 2009.
While Britain continues to struggle, the number of job vacancies in most other major economies have already recovered to pre-Covid levels. Adzuna looked at 15 countries and found that only Russia, Brazil and Poland had experienced larger contractions than the UK.
In most developed economies, including the US, France and Italy, the number of job posts now exceed pre-Covid levels. Canada and Australia fared best and advertised vacancies were up 57pc and 48pc respectively.
Andrew Hunter, of Adzuna, said: "Among developed countries, Britain’s jobs market was one of hardest hit by Covid-19 and hiring slipped nearly 60pc during the first lockdown. It has now made up ground and the vaccine rollout is boosting employer optimism – but there may be more set-backs on the road to recovery."
Brexit had dampened hiring, particularly for finance workers in the City, he said.
Tom Pugh of Capital Economics, the consultant, said Britain's slower jobs market recovery was due to the fact it had implemented a longer, stricter lockdown than most other developed nations, shutting down many industries.
"A large portion of the market has essentially been frozen. The furlough scheme has prevented unemployment from spiking but has meant that employees have been less likely to move jobs and employers have held off hiring until they are more sure of when they will be able to open," he added.
"There’s no evidence that large numbers of jobs have moved abroad because of Brexit. Some people have left the UK, but these are more likely to be students and furloughed workers than permanent moves due to Brexit."
Mr Hunter said: "Many Londoners have been moving out of the city during the pandemic, so a very different jobs market may well emerge from this crisis in the capital. By contrast, manufacturing hubs in the North such as Liverpool, Sunderland and the Wirral have held up reasonably well.”
Only five of the 47 major towns and cities Adzuna looked at have more jobs now than they did pre-Covid. These include Belfast, Sunderland, Wirral, Middlesbrough and Plymouth.
Some of the worst affected have been towns that rely on employment from airports, including Crawley and Luton. Cambridge, too, suffered a significant fall in hiring of 56pc.
The over-50s have been particularly hard hit by the jobs crisis. Around 121,000 workers over the age of 50 were made redundant between September and November 2020, data from the Office for National Statistics showed.
This compared with 119,00 redundancies among 35- to 49-year-olds, 112,000 among 25- to 34-year-olds and just 44,000 for the under-25s.
Stuart Lewis of Rest Less, a jobs site for older people, said: "Even though redundancy rates amongst the over-50s have never been this high, our concern is that there is worse still to come with more than 640,000 older workers still on furlough."