Vacancies and jobs in the UK: March 2023

Estimates of the number of vacancies and jobs for the UK.

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Release date:
14 March 2023

Next release:
18 April 2023

2. Main points

  • The number of vacancies in December 2022 to February 2023 was 1,124,000, a decrease of 51,000 from September to November 2022.

  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the eighth consecutive period in December 2022 to February 2023, down by 4.3% since September to November 2022, with vacancies falling in 12 of the 18 industry sectors.

  • In December 2022 to February 2023, total vacancies were down by 162,000 from the level of a year ago, although they remained 328,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.

  • In December 2022, workforce jobs rose by 211,000 on the quarter to a new record high of 36.4 million, with 6 of the 20 industry sectors at record-high levels.

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3. Vacancies for December 2022 to February 2023

In December 2022 to February 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 51,000 to 1,124,000, the eighth consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter since May to July 2022.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in February 2023 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Section 8: Strengths and limitations of our March 2021 bulletin) in our Dataset X06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates datasets. Both sources displayed increases in February 2023 from the previous month.

The total number of vacancies fell by 4.3% from the previous quarter, with real estate activities and other service activities contracting the most, falling by 19.5% and 17.3%, respectively. Since peaking in March to May 2022, vacancy numbers have declined by 13.6%, and while the rate at which the market is contracting has slowed over the most recent periods, vacancies remain at historically high levels.

December 2022 to February 2023 was the eighth consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter, decreasing by 51,000. The industry sectors with the largest falls in vacancy numbers were information and communication, manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical activities, which all fell by 9000.

The fall in the number of vacancies reflects uncertainty across industries. Survey respondents continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back on recruitment.

When comparing December 2022 to February 2023 with the same time last year, total vacancies decreased by 162,000 (12.6%) with falls in 15 of the 18 industry sectors, with the largest fall in information and communication, which was down by 27,000. However, the total number of vacancies remains 328,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 69,000. Notably, real estate activities was the only industry below January to March 2020 pre-pandemic levels, falling by 2,000.

In November 2022 to January 2023, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was at 1.1, up slightly from 1.0 in August to October 2022. This ratio is low by historical standards and is indicative of a tight labour market.

The only quarterly growth was in the 10 to 49 size band, but this is the first quarterly growth we have seen in any size band since May to July 2022.

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4. Jobs for December 2022

Figure 4 shows estimates of workforce jobs for December 2022.

The estimates are provided from various sources. Employee jobs in the private sector estimates are taken from surveys with reference date 9 December 2022. Self-employment jobs estimates are taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from the start of November 2022 to the end of January 2023. This is outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data.

In December 2022, UK workforce jobs rose to 36.4 million. This is an increase of 211,000 since September 2022. Employee jobs were the largest contributor, with 141,000; additional rises in self-employment jobs added 52,000, and government supported trainees 18,000.

The December 2022 estimate was 744,000 above the December 2019 level and shows that workforce jobs have been above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels for all of 2022. This continued growth, over eight consecutive periods, has enabled workforce jobs to reach a new record high in December 2022.

The total number of jobs includes employee jobs and self-employment jobs. The former has risen every quarter since December 2020, resulting in a record high of 32 million and is 1.25 million above its December 2019 pre-pandemic level. This growth has not been repeated in self-employment jobs which, despite an increase in the latest period, remain 536,000 below December 2019 levels. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs up to December 2022 is also reflected in the number of employees on payroll reported in the Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset, which has risen every month since February 2021.

The effect COVID-19 had on job numbers has varied across the labour market, with 9 of the 20 industry sectors still below pre-pandemic levels. The hardest-hit sector, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicle and motorcycles, saw the largest fall in job numbers, at 157,000. However, most industries displayed increases. The largest increases were in human health and social work, which was up 244,000 and professional, scientific and technical activities, which was up 236,000, helping to keep total workforce jobs above pre-pandemic levels. These two industries, alongside transport and storage, accommodation and food service activities, real estate activities and water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities, were all at record-high levels in December 2022.

On the quarter, 12 industry sectors grew from September 2022, contributing to the increase of 211,000 in the total workforce jobs estimate. The largest increase came from professional, scientific and technical activities, up by 93,000 and is the largest quarterly increase ever seen in this category. The second largest increase was in human health and social work, which was up 34,000. The combined decrease across the eight industries that fell in December 2022 was 72,000, with education having the largest individual fall, at 27,000.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 14 March 2023
Vacancies by industry.

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 14 March 2023
Workforce jobs summary. Workforce jobs tables are usually updated in March, June, September and December.

Workforce jobs by industry
Dataset JOBS02 | Released 14 March 2023
Workforce jobs by industry. Workforce jobs tables are usually updated in March, June, September and December.

X06:Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 14 March 2023
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted.

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6. Glossary


Vacancies are positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organisation. The estimates are based on the Vacancy Survey; this is a survey of employers designed to provide estimates of the stock of vacancies across the economy, excluding agriculture, forestry and fishing (a small sector for which the collection of estimates would not be practical).


A job is an activity performed for an employer or customer by a worker in exchange for payment, usually in cash, or in kind, or both. The number of jobs is not the same as the number of people in employment. This is because a person can have more than one job. The number of jobs is the sum of employee jobs from employer surveys, self-employment jobs from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), those in HM Forces and government-supported trainees. The number of people in employment is measured by the LFS; these estimates are available in our Employment in the UK bulletin.

A more detailed glossary is available in Section 12 of our Guide to labour market statistics

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7. Measuring the data

Upcoming changes

The next vacancies and jobs bulletin (18 April 2023) will include revisions of estimates of vacancies back to the start of the series in 2001. Revisions will result from a review of the seasonal adjustment parameters and from taking on updated sources of additional information. This is an annual process, as outlined in our Vacancy Survey Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

Making our published spreadsheets accessible

Following the Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on releasing statistics in spreadsheets we will be amending our published tables over the coming months to improve usability, accessibility and machine readability of our published statistics. To help users change to the new formats we will be publishing sample versions of a selection of our tables, and where practical, initially publish the tables in both the new and current formats. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at


For more information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article published on 6 May 2020, which details some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimatesat this time.

Our Comparison of labour market data sources article, published on 11 December 2020, compares our labour market data sources and discusses some of the main differences.

Workforce jobs estimates include data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). From 15 July 2021, an improved LFS weighting methodology better accounting for population changes through the COVID-19 pandemic was implemented, affecting periods from January to March 2020 onwards. For more information on the changes to LFS weighting methodology through the pandemic, please see our article on the LFS weighting methodology.


The data in this bulletin come from surveys of businesses. It is not feasible to survey every business in the UK, so these statistics are estimates based on samples, not precise figures.


Estimates of vacancies are obtained from our Vacancy Survey, a survey of employers. We also publish Adzuna Online job advert estimates datasets as part of the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletin.


Estimates of jobs are compiled from a number of sources, including Short-Term Employment Surveys (STES), the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Surveys (QPSES), and our Labour Force Survey (LFS). STES is a group of surveys that collect employment and turnover information from private sector businesses. In December of each year, the jobs estimates are "benchmarked" to the latest estimates from our Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES).

Further information on revisions to the LFS are explained in Section 3 of our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators article.

The STES estimates are drawn for a specified date early in the last month of each calendar quarter. The March 2020 data were from 13 March 2020, before the start of coronavirus (COVID-19) social distancing measures.

For more information on how jobs data are measured, please see Section 7: Measuring the Data section in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2021 bulletin.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our Vacancy Survey QMI and Workforce jobs QMI.

Sampling variability

The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is plus or minus 1.3% of that level expressed as a coefficient of variation, giving a 95% confidence interval for estimates of approximately plus or minus 32,000.

The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level, for a typical industrial sector is around plus or minus 6% of that level.

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8. Strengths and limitations

Information of the strengths and limitations of this bulletin are available in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2021 bulletin.

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10. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 14 March 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: March 2023.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Tom Evans
Telephone: +44 1633 651833