JOBSEEKERS in the North and Midlands will find it harder to get back to work as more candidates compete for fewer roles, according to a new study by Centre for Cities and Indeed.

Since the beginning of the lockdown over 1.4 million people have uploaded their CVs to Indeed, the UK’s most popular job site, but job opportunities are down 60 per cent since the pre-lockdown period.

Competition for roles is far higher in the cities and large towns of the North and Midlands where, on average, there are 50 per cent more people applying for every job posted than in their counterparts in the Greater South East of England.

In Bradford there are 1.6 local CVs per job posting while at the extreme end, there are three CVs per job posting in Middlesbrough compared to just 0.3 in Cambridge.

Competition for jobs has increased faster in places where it was already hardest to find a job.

Centre for Cities said the large gap between the numbers of people applying for each job in northern and southern cities and large towns underlines the scale of the challenge facing the Government in the wake of lockdown to level up the country and increase the prosperity of people in former Red Wall areas.

It also said the economic downturn has also made people less selective about the types of jobs they will do. Nationally, the proportion of jobseekers using Indeed to search for any job available has increased by five percentage points compared to this time last year.

Moreover, in places with fewer jobs available, 34 per cent of job searches are for any available job in the area, compared to only 29 per cent among the cities and large towns with the lowest competition per job. At the extremes, in Dundee more than half of job seekers (54 per cent) will consider applying for any available job, while in London just 18 per cent will – reflecting the larger numbers of jobs available.

Centre for Cities said last week’s statement from the Chancellor on support for workers, particularly young workers, is welcome as he attempts to stave off mass unemployment but he now needs to plan an Autumn Statement that develops a detailed long-term plan to upskill the work force and increase the number of high-skilled high-paying jobs needed to level up the country.

Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “While every part of the country has been affected by Covid-19, some towns and cities are feeling the economic effects harder than others.”

Unfortunately, the places where people are struggling most as a result of Covid-19 already had weaker economies prior to the pandemic. This makes the Government’s levelling up agenda even more important, but also harder to deliver.

“The package that the Chancellor announced last week may well help save some jobs and businesses, but we don’t just want to return to a pre-lockdown state – we want to improve people’s opportunities and prosperity. The Government should use the autumn Spending Review to set out a long-term plan to upskill the workforce and create the high-skilled jobs that we need to come out of this crisis stronger than we entered it.”

Indeed’s Head of EMEA Research Pawel Adrjan said: “Covid-19 is not a great equaliser. In some parts of the UK the coronavirus has made it much more difficult for people to find a job than in others. The lopsided jobs market disproportionately affects people in cities and towns in the north of England, where competition for available jobs is toughest.

“Rising unemployment means more people are searching for fewer jobs and while no one is immune to this labour market crisis, growing regional disparities are exacerbating the north-south divide in access to job opportunities.

“People have reacted to increased competition for jobs by casting a wider net and searching further afield. In future, a true ‘levelling up’ of the economy would mean creating jobs everywhere, so the north-south opportunities gap does not grow into a chasm.”