Covid home delivery boom opened lower-paid jobs, report finds

·2-min read

The popularity of home deliveries during the pandemic has led to a rise in the number of vacancies in lower-paid jobs in warehouses, according to a report.

But despite the many vacancies, workers are no better off than they were before the pandemic.

Warehouse workers and drivers have seen the biggest rise in vacancies as a result of the home delivery boom that happened during the pandemic.

Vacancies for warehouse workers were more than double pre-pandemic levels in the five months to February and vacancies for drivers were 80% higher, according to an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report.

Across the labour market there have been around a fifth more job opportunities over the last six months than in 2019.

But the IFS warned that unemployed workers are no more likely to find jobs now than before the pandemic despite the higher vacancy rates.

Vacancies have increased the most for those without higher education, meaning many new opportunities are in lower-paid jobs.

Yet the overall mix is similar to 2019 and has not shifted any more than usual.

Xiaowei Xu, senior research economist at the IFS, said: “The pandemic has not led to a huge change in the mix of jobs demanded, but the shift towards lower-skilled occupations is potentially concerning.

“There are signs that vacancies today are still affected by transitory factors, for example pent-up demand for job moves over the pandemic and the fall in EU migrants, so it is possible that this will fade over time.

“That said, the specific occupations that have seen large increases in vacancies are consistent with a shift in consumer preferences towards home delivery, which could indicate a more permanent change in labour demand.”

The research also found no sign that an increase in vacancies has pushed up wages for workers.

Workers’ total pay was just 0.4% higher than a year ago after taking inflation into account as real wages fail to keep up with rising prices, the ONS said this month.

The IFS said it is too early to say whether higher demand for lower-skilled jobs will be temporary or the new normal.

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