JOB vacancies in Hampshire have fallen by up to 44 per cent in a month locally as the coronavirus lockdown laid waste to hundreds of thousands of posts.

A study commissioned by the Institute for Employment Studies found the fall in vacancies across the country was more than twice as severe as in the economic crash of 2008.

Vacancies in the Hampshire County Council area fell 44 per cent, from 4,759 in the week ending March 15 to 2,926 in the week ending April 12.

In the Southampton City Council area, the fall was 39 per cent, from 4,759 to 2,926. In the Portsmouth City Council area, vacancies fell 35 per cent from 2,335 to 1,516.

The study, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, used data from Adzuna, the online job search engine which runs the government’s Find a Job service. It says its data picks up at least 90 per cent of vacancy activity.

Nationally, vacancies fell by 42 per cent following the lockdown.

Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “This data paints a stark and detailed picture of how the jobs market has been rocked over the last month. These impacts are far greater than anything we’ve seen before and are affecting all places and nearly all parts of the economy.

“At the same time though, there are still nearly half a million job openings, with vacancies holding up in health and social care in particular. So we need to keep working to support those who are out of work and looking for work to find those jobs.

“The continued lockdown is justified and necessary, and if it eases during May and June then we should expect to see vacancies start to rise again. But we need to start planning for that recovery now, with a ‘Cobra for Jobs’ to bring together those inside and outside government and ensure that the country can get back to work as quickly as possible.”

The biggest fall in vacancies was seen in the hospitality and catering sector, where the figure was down by 70 per cent nationally.

But the report said “it is concerning that there are very steep falls across a broad range of job types and not just in those directly shut down”, adding; “Notably, vacancies have fallen by more than 60 per cent in sales, administration, public relations, consulting, HR and recruitment, energy and charity work.”

The largest falls by volume were in IT (44,000 fewer vacancies), sales (43,000), accounting and finance (37,000) and engineering (35,000). These areas between them accounted for 44 per cent of the drop in vacancies.

The national fall from 820,000 vacancies to 475,000 was 2.5 times the size of the greatest previous drop, which happened following the banking crash in November 2008.