By Daniel Hunter

The Adzuna Jobs Index reveals clear signs of improvement in the labour market this month, despite the struggling economy and Britain losing its AAA credit rating.

There are currently 491,298 live vacancies in UK, up 4% over 6 months. The ONS is also reporting Job Seekers Allowance claimants falling to 1.54m, a drop of 12,500 month on month.

The swell in vacancies and the continued decline in claimant numbers has resulted in 3.22 job seekers per vacancy across Britain. While these numbers create the beginnings of a positive picture, the rate at which salaries are declining across the country should be a concern.

“It’s been a fairly positive start to the year, with solid vacancy figures showing the labour market is relatively robust, despite the looming threat of a triple-dip recession," Adzuna Co-Founder Andrew Hunter said.

"While encouraging, it’s far too early to pop the champagne corks. Many parts of the UK such as East Midlands and Yorkshire remain in crisis with job stock numbers dwindling and average wages decreasing. Youth unemployment continues to be the greatest issue facing the British job market today. There are still 974,000 16 to 24 year olds unemployed in Britain and 17 applicants for every entry level vacancy. Our data suggests steady improvement in the number of jobs in the UK in Q1, but continued stagnation of salaries.”

As the job market swells with fresh vacancies, competition for jobs has fallen by 3% this February. While southern cities dominate the hotspot list, Aberdeen and Manchester are real pockets of opportunity north of the border.

Jobseekers should head to Aberdeen, Cambridge and Guildford where there are more vacancies than unemployed. Hull is the hardest city in the UK to find a job with 51 applicants chasing every vacancy. Edinburgh and Cardiff may not have made the top 10 list, but competition for jobs has decreased by up to 25% in the past 6 months, while Slough, London and Brighton have all worsened.

While average salaries have increased marginally in the month from January to February 2013, pay packets across the UK are significantly lower than the highs of the summer of 2012 — this is primarily due to the rise of part time workers in Britain. Wales & the North West of England are the worst paying regions in the UK with average advertised salaries in February of £24,661 and £27,778 respectively.

For the second month in a row, the Energy, Oil & Gas industry is the top paying sector in Britain, with average wages sitting at £47,232. Jobseekers looking for a pay rise should look to head to London and the South East of England where wages are consistently higher than the national average.

“Market analysts, policy makers and commentators should be delighted to see this additional job market data becoming available. Confusion is rife about the state of the labour market — which seems to be so much stronger than GDP figures would suggest — so this extra insight is most welcome," British statistician and economist Simon Briscoe said.

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