LONDON (Reuters) - The volume of UK financial sector job vacancies dropped by 60% in the quarter to end-June, data on Wednesday showed, as the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted fresh injury to a labour market already reeling from restructuring and Brexit.
The latest Morgan McKinley Spring London Employment Monitor, which details hiring trends across Britain's financial industry, showed the number of job-seekers fell by almost a third in the three month period from April, with available jobs plunging by 72% year-on-year in that month alone.
The latest figures follow a rapid slowdown in hiring seen in March, when the number of available jobs dropped by 38% compared with February.
The early part of the April-June quarter was dominated by government-imposed lockdowns to stem the novel coronavirus outbreak and there were tentative signs of job market activity resuming towards the end of the period.
But financial services, which has historically contributed around 10% of the UK's total economic output and employs 1 in 14 people across Britain, was already in the midst of critical change before the virus outbreak sent the global economy into a tailspin.
Major banks including HSBC <HSBA.L> have now resumed plans to axe jobs after postponing layoffs at the height of the pandemic.
Hakan Enver, Managing Director at Morgan McKinley UK, said some professionals were taking advantage of more relaxed home-working environments to assess career opportunities, particularly after a bounce in the average salary boost by moving from one job to another.
During April, the average salary change plunged to a record low of 6%, after the government lockdown on March 23 crushed productivity and triggered an immediate cost-cutting drive across the sector.
This did jump back up to 22% in May, after workforces had settled into home-working routines and confidence began to rally in line with falls in infection rate and unprecedented government action to support both businesses and consumers.
The average rise in salary of those moving from one job to another ended the quarter at 13%, compared to an average over the last 18 months of 16.9%, Morgan McKinley UK said.
In a further sign of optimism, the number of job vacancies available increased by 72% in June, with employers showing willingness to invest in talent to drive their recovery and future growth.
"The ability to pivot and adapt to major infrastructure change stands as a hopeful mark of survivor potential," Envers said.
"This will not likely be possible without finding and retaining talent. Companies with an eye on strategic goals in these areas may want to take advantage of a buyer's market."
(Reporting By Sinead Cruise; Editing by Toby Chopra)