Londoners looking for work outside UK capital rockets by 31%

·3-min read
(Jaanus Jagomägi/Unsplash)
With job vacancies down in the capital, Londoners are looking elsewhere. Photo: Jaanus Jagomägi/Unsplash

The number of Londoners looking for work outside the capital has shot up by nearly a third, as the city’s jobs market struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, research suggests.

Job site Indeed reported a 31% increase in London-based employees seeking jobs in other cites between the start of the year and April.

Accounting for seasonal factors, the figure was still over a quarter (27%) higher than it was in August 2019, the data shows.

This could be due to the declining number of job vacancies in the capital, as London-based jobs were down 55% annually in September — barely above the low point of June, when they were down 57% year-on-year.

While listings in other regions are beginning to recover from the COVID-19 hit, the recovery of London’s job market has “flatlined,” the study found.

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This coincides with numerous reports of spikes in Londoners looking to move out of the capital. However, that data suggests the trend is driven by Londoners “giving up hope” of ever being able to afford a home in the expensive city.

Meanwhile, Indeed’s data “highlights a shift in where Londoners want to work, rather than live,” the company said.

Of the five most popular counties Londoners want to work in, four are counties adjoining London, with Essex accounting for one in 10 searches — suggesting that while Londoners may be eager for more opportunities, they don’t want to go too far.

The top five destinations among Londoners seeking work outside the capital:

  1. Essex (10%)

  2. Kent (8%)

  3. Surrey (8%)

  4. Hertfordshire (6%)

  5. Hampshire (5%)

The most commonly searched roles are for non-specialist jobs, with the top five being cleaner, customer service representative, warehouse worker, retail assistant and sales assistant roles, the data shows.

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“The prolonged absence of commuters and tourists — and the spending they bring — from central London is weighing down the pace of job creation in the capital. Since the summer, job vacancies have been springing up faster outside London than in it,” said Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed.

“While London’s flagship financial and tech sectors are still recruiting, the types of job that Londoners are searching for most commonly outside London tend to be roles that were long abundant in the capital — from retail to cleaning work — but which are now scarcer.

“With fewer new job opportunities in the capital, many Londoners are casting their net wider in their search for work. Most interesting of all, most are looking for work in areas within commuting distance of London.

He added: “This raises the prospect of a new type of worker — the reverse commuter who lives in London but travels out of the capital for work.

“London’s booming economy has been an engine of job creation and career progression for decades, but in the space of a few months the pandemic has shifted the dynamic between the capital and the areas in its orbit.”