Uncertainty surrounding June's EU referendum has impacted on the UK's jobs market, according to jobs site Adzuna.
According to its own data, new job adverts fell by 10.3% in the three months to February with vulnerable industries hit hardest. There are now 0.59 jobseekers per advertised position, up from 0.52.
Prior to November, the jobs market saw ten consecutive months of improvements in job openings, but this trend has now faltered. This was further evident in a somewhat sluggish seasonal monthly improvement of 3.4% from 1,079,711 in January – significantly behind the 4.2% monthly rise previously seen in 2014 and 2015.
Adzuna said every region in the UK saw new job adverts decline during the three month period. But the South East (15.6%) and Northern Ireland (15.4%) were the worst affected, both reporting above average falls.
With a referendum on EU membership and a possible Brexit just around the corner, Adzuna said it is the main reason behind the slowing jobs market, particularly for the travel industry which has seen new jobs fall by nearly 43%, retail (24%) and manufacturing (17%).
The research also showed that advertised salaries are struggling to grow, with just a 0.6% rise from the same period last year.
Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “There are signs that caution is controlling the current UK jobs market and stalling the recovery. One possible explanation is that uncertainty around Brexit means hiring intentions have been paused. After a strong hiring outlook in the latter months of last year, it’s possible that attitudes to recruitment have begun to alter of late. Companies seem to be holding off on expanding their staff, instead preferring to sit tight and wait out the political bumps of the next couple of months. For jobseekers, this means fewer available positions and fewer choices are on offer.
"On top of this, April’s new national living wage is defining a new employment landscape and changing power dynamics. The result of these changes is a jobs market which is struggling to replicate the strength it had only three months ago."