Tesco today revealed that it received a staggering 1,500 applications for just 92 jobs at its new Extra store in Knocknagoney.
In a sign of just how tough the job market has become, the supermarket giant said it received more than 15 applications for every post, which included full-time and temporary roles created to help customers navigate the expanded store.
Official figures showed that another 1,500 people joined the dole queues in Northern Ireland last month, raising the total number looking for work to 51,000. While the local unemployment rate of 6.7% is below the rate of 7.8% in the UK as a whole, the jobless total in the province has increased by nearly 90% in the last 12 months.
It is not the first time Tesco has been inundated by applications from jobseekers. The company’s recently-opened Carrickfergus store attracted even more interest, with almost 2,000 applications for 85 jobs.
And rival supermarket company Asda — which this month said the average time its employees stay with the company is now more than five years — said that since August last year it has had over 9,000 applications for just 81 new roles.
Most were for general assistants and night crew, but it also had 871 applications for management jobs.
McDonald’s, which receives 2,200 applications every day across the UK for 140 jobs, receives at least 50 applications for the three or four positions that become available in Northern Ireland each month.
The company, which has 1,300 workers in the province, said it too is experiencing very low levels of staff turnover.
The rise in ratio of applications to positions is not limited to the private sector with more jobseekers looking to take advantage of the perceived security of the public sector. The PSNI received 9,000 applications for around 400 positions this year.
East Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers said the volume of applicants illustrates the dire state of the economy.
“It shows you how bad the employment situation actually is because thousands of people are now out of work who have previously always been in employment.
“People are diversifying because they know jobs in the industries they were in before are probably not coming back and so more people are looking into areas such as retailing,” he said.