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Hardest hit sectors have not benefitted from COVID job hopping

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Though job-to-job moves hit a record high in 2021, industries that struggled in the pandemic, like hospitality and leisure, have not benefitted from the reallocation of labour.

In the third quarter of 2021, when job-to-job moves were at their highest, just 43% of job switchers moved to a new industry, the lowest rate since at the early 2000s.

Changes in sector size, according to the Resolution Foundation, have been driven primarily by new people entering the labour market and moving into growing sectors.

Anyone leaving struggling, shrinking sectors were more likely to have been left unemployed, or become economically inactive rather than finding a new job in a booming industry.


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This disconnect between those leaving work and where vacancies exist creates concerns for the future job market.

There have been gender and age disparities in how work has shifted too.

Resolution Foundation economist Hannah Slaughter, commented: “When the COVID-19 crisis hit, many worried about the risk of mass unemployment as huge swathes of the economy shut down.

“But while unemployment has not risen, our workforce has become smaller, younger and more female.”

During the pandemic, the number of working 55-64-year-olds fell by 1.2 percentage points.

Although the loss in this age group has been driven in the majority by older women, more younger women, between the ages of 24 and 44, have stepped up to work where their male counterparts have fallen out of work.

The percentage of working men aged 24-55 is down by 1.1 percentage points, whereas women in this age bracket has risen by 1.8, now making up 48% of the workforce (compared with 47% in 2019).

More remote and flexible working opportunities enabled more women, especially working mothers, to keep their jobs.

However, the report warns of the impact more hybrid working will have on low-paid members of the workforce.

Where hybrid has given higher-paid professionals more options, the reduction in activity in city and town centres as a result will create fewer service sector jobs for low-paid workers.

Slaughter added: “We need to bank the benefits of more flexible working patterns in post-pandemic Britain, and avoid the risk of remote workers being turned into second class staff, as we have done with so many part-time workers.”