London has suffered the biggest fall in job opportunities among Europe’s biggest cities, according to a report showing that national capitals across the region have been damaged most by Covid-19.
Britain’s capital is also among five of the biggest cities in western Europe – London, Berlin, Madrid, Paris and Rome – that have recorded a larger drop in new job adverts than elsewhere in their respective countries, according to Indeed.
The world’s largest jobs website said tougher restrictions applied by governments across the continent to contain the second Covid wave had extracted the heaviest price for the jobs markets of these usually dominant cities.
Comparing posting trends on its platform for the year up to 6 November with the same period a year earlier, it said the UK labour market had sustained the biggest decline for work opportunities.
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Job postings in London have plummeted by 50%, compared to a 42% decline for the rest of the UK, in a reflection of the city’s density and typical opportunities for work during normal times – such as in retail, hospitality and leisure – which have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
The figures tally with research from the Bank of England, which suggests social consumption – spending that involves interaction with other people – contributes more to the UK economy than in other countries. The Bank also estimates social spending can recover faster in countries where Covid has been more contained.
According to Indeed, Madrid suffered the second-biggest decline, at 46%, while job postings elsewhere across Spain are down by 39%. Berlin sustained the least damage, although it followed the same pattern, with a 25% fall in the German capital versus 17% for the rest of the country.
Job postings fell by 40% in Paris, compared with 24% for the rest of France, and 35% in Rome, versus 24% for the rest of Italy.
Pawel Adrjan, economist and head of European research at Indeed, said the hit to the biggest European capitals reflected larger declines in visits to these cities due to more office staff working from home. This has had a knock-on impact for service jobs in hospitality and retail which usually drive employment in these places.
“[Office workers] staying at home is sucking the life out of these major cities. They’re not ghost towns yet, but risk becoming shadows of their former selves,” Adjan said.
“It’s really striking how similar the pattern is for these five major capital cities we’ve been looking at. They have a lot more jobs that can be done from home. And that’s one of factors affecting footfall, which translates into reduced demand for service jobs in these places.”
Travel into central London has collapsed as office workers stay at home during the pandemic, triggering an existential crisis for many traders that rely on commuters and city centre footfall – including coffee shops, restaurants, retailers, hotels and pubs. In addition, a coronavirus-related collapse in tourism and business travel to capital cities has also hit hiring.
People who live in west London are more than twice as likely to work from home than anywhere else in the UK, according to official data. This is because more people work in professional, finances and IT jobs which can be done from home more easily. Official figures show 80% of IT staff are working from home, compared with just 18% in retail.
Transport data shows a bigger fall in journeys being made in London compared with elsewhere in the UK. Meanwhile, footfall figures from the research provider Springboard showed the number of visits to central London on Friday last week – normally a bumper day due to Black Friday shopping – was down by 83% compared with the discount day last year. In contrast, footfall was down 74% in major regional cities but by 56% in market towns.
Pawel Ardjan said: “I don’t think big cities are dead, but this shows how long and hard the adjustment might be for these service workers.”
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