The proportion of UK job ads including vital salary information has slipped to a seven year low as employers ignore calls for salary transparency, according to smarter job search engine Adzuna.

Adzuna analysed 80 million UK job ads advertised between 2016 and April 2023 to highlight the sectors, regions, and companies who are most and least transparent about pay.

Despite Adzuna data showing job ads with a salary receive 6x more applications, just 51.5% of UK job ads disclosed an intended salary or salary range in April 2023, significantly lower than 61.4% a year ago. Aside from March 2023 (50.8%), it marked the lowest level of salary disclosure since Adzuna began collecting data in April 2016 – seven years ago.

Year-on-year, job vacancies have slipped -19.5% across the UK and the labour market has become tighter. Falling salary transparency suggests employers may be using this shift in power to rein in salary disclosure and keep a tight lid on budgets when filling roles.

Retail is the most secretive sector, with just 26.8% of Retail jobs including salary information in April 2023, falling 14 percentage points from 40.8% a year ago. The next worst offending sectors are Scientific & QA (29.3%) and Creative & Design (31.1%).

Compared to a year ago, salary transparency has slipped fastest in the Energy, Oil & Gas sector, where the proportion of job ads disclosing salary information has fallen by 17.5 percentage points from 50.9% to 33.4%. Similarly, fewer salary details are on offer for Admin jobs compared to a year ago, down 17.1pp from 73.0% to 55.9%. Trade & Construction saw the third largest fall, down 16.3pp from 69.1% to 52.8%.

Voluntary jobs are most likely to include pay information, with 84.3% of job ads disclosing salary in April 2023, followed by Social Work roles (72.9%) and Logistics & Warehouse positions (70.9%).

The West Midlands is the most transparent region in April 2023, with 55.6% of job ads including salary information. By comparison, only 29.5% of job ads in Northern Ireland feature salaries, the lowest of any region, followed by Scotland (41.7%), Wales (47.0%) and London (49.7%). Interestingly, London has been cited as having both the worst ethnicity pay gap and worst gender pay gap, suggesting a correlation between a lack of transparency and inequality.

Andrew Hunter, cofounder of Adzuna, comments: “Employers are ignoring calls for greater salary transparency, with the proportion of job ads including vital salary details at a seven year low. Compared to last year, the power in the jobs market has shifted back to companies and we are seeing fewer job ads disclosing the salary as employers find it easier to fill positions. Against the context of a slower economy, this may also reflect a growing pressure to keep to tight budgets, but falling pay transparency comes with a very real societal cost – making pay gaps worse.

“On the global playing field, the UK may be falling behind, with major cities in the US like New York introducing legislation making it law for employers to include salary information on jobs ads, and the EU Pay Transparency directive pushing through a similar initiative in Europe. As well as making the job hunting process less stressful and less time consuming for jobseekers, salary transparency is a crucial step towards eliminating pay gaps in the jobs market. By setting clear salary brackets for a role, jobseekers know the fair pay rate and whether it’s worth their time applying. For employers, including the salary on a job ad leads to 6x more applications, so it’s a win-win situation.”