Surge in firms hiring admin staff shows employers are looking to reopen offices after lockdown, says Reed boss, as recruiter posts 153,000 new jobs in February alone

  • James Reed, from jobs firm Reed, said there had been spike in admin job adverts
  • He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that this suggests a return to the office
  • It comes as unemployment figures today hit a five year high in UK, of 5.1 per cent 

A surge in firms hiring admin staff shows employers are looking at reopening offices after lockdown ends, a top recruitment firm boss has today claimed.

As it was this morning announced UK unemployment figures had reached a five-year high, James Reed, from the company Reed, said the number of jobs available on his company’s site was actually growing

Providing a glimmer of hope of a post-Covid recovery, he said 153,000 new jobs had been posted in February alone – a similar trend to what the firm had seen during the November lockdown.

And he said there had been a particular spike in admin, media and digital jobs, sparking hope that companies could be looking to bring workers back into the office.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: ‘We are seeing a lot more administration jobs posted, which is encouraging because it suggests companies are potentially planning to reopen their offices.

‘And there’s been quite a big increase in media and digital jobs as well.

Mr Reed said his company had seen a spike in admin job adverts, which he said suggests a possible return to the office (pictured: Library image) after lockdown

We were surprised to find that the number of jobs advertised in the second lockdown was higher than the months preceding.

Unemployment rises again to five-year high of 5.1 per cent 

Unemployment has risen again to a five-year high of 5.1 per cent as Rishi Sunak prepares to extend the huge furlough scheme for months more.

Official figures showed that in the three months to December the rate went up by 0.1 per cent compared to the equivalent period to November.

The increase – hitting younger people hardest – comes despite the huge bailouts in place to prop up jobs, and will fuel fears of a devastating spike when the support is finally withdrawn.

However, there were some glimmers of hope in the details released today, with the numbers on payroll and vacancies increasing slightly month on month.

Furlough is currently due to stop at the end of April, having been implemented during the spring outbreak to prevent millions of job losses at stricken businesses.

The Treasury has already spent around £280billion supporting UK plc through the crisis, and Mr Sunak has made clear he wants to start balancing the books.

But yesterday Boris Johnson strongly hinted the support schemes will continue, insisting the Government has no intention of ‘pulling the rug’ and will ‘continue to do whatever it takes to protect jobs’ for the ‘duration of the pandemic’.

The ‘roadmap’ unveiled by the PM yesterday includes four stages which last until June 21 – suggesting support will go on at least that long.

ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: ‘The latest monthly tax figures show tentative early signs of the labour market stabilising, with a small increase in the numbers of employees paid through payroll over the last couple of months – though there are still over 700,000 fewer people employed than before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Almost three-fifths of this fall in employees since the onset of the pandemic came from the under-25s, according to a new age breakdown we are publishing for the first time today.

‘Our survey shows that the unemployment rate has had the biggest annual rise since the financial crisis.

This has happened again this year. In February we saw a 14 per cent increase, month on month, in jobs.

‘However, the proportion of people who are neither working nor looking for work has stabilised after rising sharply at the start of the pandemic, with many people who lost their jobs early on having now started looking for work.’

We’ve had 153,000 new jobs in the first three weeks of February alone, which is significant and is actually 4 per cent up year on year, even pre-pandemic.’

But Mr Reed’s message of optimism was given with the caveat that he expects unemployment to rise in the early part of this year.

He also suggested an extension to the furlough scheme, which is due to end in March.

Mr Reed said extending the support package would be particularly helpful to sectors where restrictions are due to continue beyond the current expiry date of the scheme.

While some restrictions on household meetings will be lifted in March, non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality businesses, gyms and services such as hairdressers are not due to reopen until April 12.

Indoor hospitality services and hotels are not due to reopen until May 17 – more than two months after the end of the furlough scheme.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is later expected to announce an extension to the furlough scheme until at least July. 

It comes as economist Nye Cominetti, from think-tank the Resolution Foundation, also suggested an extension to the scheme.

He said: ‘The rise in unemployment continued at the end of 2020. However the renewed lockdown had only a muted effect on unemployment, as firms have adapted and furlough has kept people in jobs.

‘But the sheer longevity of the crisis is taking its toll on firms, and young people in particular, who have borne the brunt of the job losses.’

He called on the Chancellor to extend emergency support for firms and to announce a recovery package in next week’s budget.  

The calls come as it was announced that unemployment has risen again to a five-year high of 5.1 per cent, while Rishi Sunak prepares to extend the huge furlough scheme for months more.

Official figures showed that in the three months to December the rate went up by 0.1 per cent compared to the equivalent period to November.

The increase – hitting younger people hardest – comes despite the huge bailouts in place to prop up jobs, and will fuel fears of a devastating spike when the support is finally withdrawn.

However, there were some glimmers of hope in the details released today, with the numbers on payroll and vacancies increasing slightly month on month.  

Furlough is currently due to stop at the end of April, having been implemented during the spring outbreak to prevent millions of job losses at stricken businesses. 

The Treasury has already spent around £280billion supporting UK plc through the crisis, and Mr Sunak has made clear he wants to start balancing the books.

But yesterday Boris Johnson strongly hinted the support schemes will continue, insisting the Government has no intention of ‘pulling the rug’ and will ‘continue to do whatever it takes to protect jobs’ for the ‘duration of the pandemic’.

The ‘roadmap’ unveiled by the PM yesterday includes four stages which last until June 21 – suggesting support will go on at least that long. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to extend the massive furlough scheme until at least July
The roadmap document published by the government yesterday underlines the scale of the hit from coronavirus, which has caused the worst recession in 300 years
The roadmap document points out that young people in particular have been hammered by the lockdowns