The number of people employed by agency members of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) declined 11% in 2020, and agencies report that at least a quarter of the departures were a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Total numbers were down from 24,866 in 2019 to 22,188 in 2020, according to the latest IPA Agency Census, which estimates it captures details on around 86% of those employed in the industry. Job losses were most keenly felt among women, the under-25s and over-60s. On a more positive note, the IPA found the level of ethnic diversity increased last year.
Staff numbers in creative and other non-media agencies fell by 9.0% from 13,509 in 2019 to 12,298 in 2020, while the number of employees in media agencies dropped by 12.1% from 11,357 to 9,980.
The number of males employed in member agencies fell by 8.1% year-on–year from 11,700 to 10,752, while the number of females employed fell by 12.8% from 13,088 to 11,411.
The overall number of part-time workers decreased by 23.2% to 1,239 in 2020, but this impacted women (-24.5% to 1,037) more than men (-15.1% to 202).
In addition, the overall proportion of females in C-suite positions decreased from 34% in 2019 to 32.4%.
Those aged under 25 employed in member agencies dropped by 29.4% from 4,592 in 2019 to 3,243 in 2020, while the number of over-60s declined by 22.1% from 240 to 187 year-on-year.
The number of employees from a non-white background is now estimated at 15.3%, up from the 13.7% recorded in 2019.
“The pandemic has hit all areas of our lives, and sadly but unsurprisingly our jobs, as this latest IPA Census reveals. With the exception of numbers of people from non-white backgrounds increasing in spite of overall numbers falling, the impact of the pandemic has exaggerated some existing negative trends” – Julian Douglas, IPA President.