Deserted High Streets are stifling the British job market's recovery, new research suggests.
Urban areas in Scotland and southern England have seen the biggest declines in job postings, according to the Centre for Cities think tank.
Vacancies have failed to return to pre-pandemic levels across all 63 towns and cities it analysed across the UK.
The slow jobs recovery is linked to a "collapse" in the number of jobs in services being advertised, it says.
Aberdeen, where the oil industry has struggled during the pandemic, recorded the steepest fall, with a 75% decline in job vacancies at the beginning of October, compared to the same time last year.
It is followed by Edinburgh at 57%, and both Belfast and Crawley, a West Sussex town near Gatwick Airport, at 55%.
London has seen the sixth biggest fall in job postings at 52%. Overall, UK vacancies are 46% behind last year's level, said the report from the think tank and jobs website Indeed.
Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy.
"The government has told us to expect a tough winter and while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead."
'Long winter' for unemployed
The think tank's analysts said in general, the lag in hiring was concentrated in sectors exposed to Covid-19 restrictions, such as retail, arts and leisure. Stricter coronavirus rules are now in force for nearly six million Britons.
They also said working from home was stifling industries which depended on High Street footfall.
Areas where footfall has returned to normal more quickly, such as Birkenhead, Chatham and Hull, have seen a faster recovery in the number of jobs advertised.
Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at Indeed, said: "The timid recovery in job vacancies is a portent of the distress towns and cities could face if restrictions continue to spring up in parts of the country already reeling from imposed lockdowns and reduced footfall."
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