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UK job vacancies fall 15% year-on-year in January, Adzuna data shows

FILE PHOTO: Commuters carry umbrellas while crossing London Bridge in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British employers advertised the fewest jobs in nearly three years last month, with numbers down 15% from a year ago, figures from recruitment data company Adzuna showed on Monday, adding to signs that the labour market is cooling.

Last week Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey welcomed what he described as "full employment" - with the official jobless rate at 3.8% - despite the economy entering a shallow recession in the second half of last year.

However, the central bank wants to see wage growth slow from rates of more than 6% in order to put downward pressure on inflation, which remains double its target.

Falling job vacancies offer a potential sign that employers are finding it easier to recruit than in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the number of vacancies peaked at more than 1.3 million.

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Adzuna said 867,436 jobs were advertised in Britain in January, based on its analysis of more than 1,000 online sources. This was the lowest number since April 2021 and down from more than 1 million a year earlier.

"January 2024 has proven to be one of the most difficult starts to the year for job hunters in recent years with companies continuing to put hiring plans on ice," Adzuna co-founder Andrew Hunter said.

The number of job seekers per advertised vacancy rose to 1.81 from 1.48 a year earlier.

However, Hunter said, preliminary data for February suggested the number of vacancies was stabilising.

Previous vacancy data from the Office for National Statistics showed an 18% annual fall in job vacancies for the three months to the end of January.

Adzuna said the average starting salary - which employers only published for just under half of positions advertised - was 38,168 pounds ($48,450), 3.0% more than a year earlier.

($1 = 0.7878 pounds)

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Mark Heinrich)