March Job Market Review

article image’s monthly Job Market Review gives recruiters and businesses fresh insights into what happened in the jobs market in the last month – including candidate insights and regional and sector performance.



March 2021 Snapshot


  • Vacancies remain steady month-on-month but saw significant year-on-year growth (+36%)
  • All regions in the UK, bar East Anglia, saw year-on-year growth
  • Vacancies up year-on-year in sectors including: Legal (+69%), Transport & Logistics (+68%) and IT (+61%)
  • 2.4 million applications were made on; up 10% month-on-month


March saw job adverts on rise 36% year-on-year


226,000 UK vacancies were posted on in March 2021 – an increase of 60,000 vacancies compared to the 166,000 UK job adverts which appeared in March 2020. With March marking a year since the onset of the pandemic, this data signals a positive sign of job market recovery and renewed business optimism.


Our data is further buoyed by findings from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) March Labour Market Overview, which revealed payrolled employment numbers had risen for three consecutive months (December 2020 – February 2021).


Continued recruitment drive with year-on-year growth for most sectors


According to hiring activity on, most sectors saw significant year-on-year growth in March 2021. The leading sectors for annual growth include Transport & Logistics (68%), IT (61%), Marketing & Media (61%), Education (55%) and Financial Services (47%).


Following three months of consistent month-on-month growth, the Health and Social Care sector finally took its foot off the hiring pedal in March 2021 with 46% fewer vacancies posted compared to February. The sector still saw a 23% rise in vacancies year-on-year however.


Equally interesting to note is the annual growth of vacancies in sectors which will be heavily involved in getting staff back to the workplace in the summer months, in line with the government’s unlocking plans. Vacancies for roles in Legal are up 69% annually, Human Resources advert numbers up 37% annually and Admin up by 22% compared to March 2020.


Year-on-year growth in vacancies across the UK


From March 2021 onwards, we begin to get a real picture of how regions across the UK are bouncing back from the employment damage caused by the pandemic.


Nearly half (100,000) of all UK vacancies in March were for roles based in South East England and London. With Londoners the worst hit by unemployment during the pandemic (according to the ONS, around 30% of job losses since February 2020 have been in the capital), news that vacancies are up 57% year-on-year will be welcome news.


After London, South West England saw the biggest month-on-month growth (12%), led by big recruitment drives in Engineering, Finance and Education specifically. This has also helped the region increase vacancies numbers by nearly double (97%) year-on-year. 


Looking at other countries in the UK, Scotland saw 59% year-on-year growth and in Wales vacancies were up by over a quarter (26%) year-on-year. Vacancy numbers for Northern Ireland were more modest, with 7% growth year-on-year.


Jobseeker optimism matches continued surge in vacancies


Applications in March rose by 10% month-on-month and were just 2% lower than during January’s annual job rush; demonstrating resilience among jobseekers throughout the ongoing lockdown.


London (864,000), South East England (589,000) and North West England (211,000) saw the highest amount of job applications, with month-on-month application growth of 13%, 8%, 5% respectively.


What we expect to see in April


We see employment numbers continuing to gradually rise in data published by the ONS and, with lockdown restrictions being eased for certain businesses in April (current lockdown restrictions will end on 12th April 2021 for non-essential retail stores, salons, gym and leisure facilities, pubs and restaurants with outdoor services), we expect to see hiring accelerate in these industries.

For businesses looking to accelerate hiring, we know that the potential candidate pool right now is vast. A recent survey* we conducted among UK adults found that over a third (36%) of UK adults are currently looking for a job and, whilst not actively looking, a further three in 10 (30%) say they are open to opportunities. Learn how you can reach these passive jobseekers in this blog.

*Online survey of 2,001 adults aged 18-64 in the UK who are either employed (full- or part-time), furloughed or unemployed. Survey conducted in January 2021 by Atomik Research on behalf of

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