Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2019

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

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Release date:
16 April 2019

Next release:
14 May 2019

1. Other pages in this release

Commentary on topics covered in the previous Labour market statistics bulletin is now split into four separate bulletins. Other commentary from the latest labour market data can be found on the following pages:

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2. Main points for January to March 2019

  • There were an estimated 852,000 job vacancies in the UK, 32,000 more than a year earlier.

  • There were an estimated 133,000 vacancies in the human health and social work sector; this sector accounted for 15.6% of all vacancies in the UK.


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.

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3. Analysis


The estimated number of vacancies in the UK fell sharply during the recession of 2008 to 2009 but has increased steadily since 2012. For January to March 2019, there were an estimated 852,000 vacancies in the UK, 32,000 more than a year earlier.


This month, we have revised our estimates of vacancies back to the start of the series in 2001 due to the annual review of the seasonal adjustment process and from taking on board late and corrected information from contributors to the Vacancy Survey.

For January to March 2019 it is estimated that:

  • there were 2.8 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs across the economy as a whole

  • the sectors showing the highest estimated vacancy rates were accommodation and food services, and other service activities (4.1 vacancies per 100 employee jobs)

  • the sector showing the lowest estimated vacancy rate was public administration and defence (1.6 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs)

Jobs (first published on 19 March 2019)

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. Estimates for the number of people in employment are available in Employment in the UK.

Between December 2017 and December 2018, the total number of jobs in the UK increased by 415,000 to reach an estimated 35.27 million. The sector showing the largest estimated increase in jobs was information and communication (up 90,000 on the year).


These jobs estimates were first published on 19 March 2019. The jobs estimates will next be updated on 11 June 2019.

The number of jobs in the manufacturing, and mining and quarrying sectors fell steadily between 1978 (when comparable records began) and 2008 but has been fairly stable for the last 10 years.

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4. Data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02| Released 16 April 2019
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 19 March 2019
Estimates of jobs by type of job (employee jobs, self-employment jobs, HM Forces and government-supported trainees).

Workforce jobs by industry
Dataset JOBS02| Released 19 March 2019
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

More detailed sampling variability information for estimates of jobs is available from Dataset JOBS07.

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5. Glossary


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, those in HM Forces and government-supported trainees. The number of people in employment is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS); these estimates are available in our Employment in the UK release.


Vacancies are defined as positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organisation. The estimates are based on the Vacancy Survey – a survey of businesses 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 more detailed Glossary is available.

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6. Measuring the data

Estimates of jobs are compiled from a number of sources, including Short Term Employer Surveys (STES), the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES) and the 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 the Business Register and Employment Survey.

Estimates of vacancies are obtained from the Vacancy Survey, a survey of employers.

The Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) reports for jobs and vacancies pull together important qualitative information on the various dimensions of data quality, as well as providing a summary of methods used to compile the output.

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7. Strengths and limitations

The figures in this bulletin mainly come from surveys of businesses, which gather information from a sample rather than from the whole population. The samples are designed to be as accurate as possible given practical limitations such as time and cost constraints. Results from sample surveys are always estimates, not precise figures. This can have an impact on how changes in the estimates should be interpreted, especially for short-term comparisons.

As the number of people available in the sample gets smaller, the variability of the estimates that we can make from that sample size gets larger. Estimates for small groups (for example, vacancies in the construction industry), which are based on quite small subsets of the Vacancy Survey sample, are less reliable and tend to be more volatile than for larger aggregated groups (for example, total vacancies in the UK).

In general, short-term changes in the growth rates reported in this bulletin are not usually greater than the level that can be explained by sampling variability. Short-term movements in reported rates should be considered alongside longer-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in other sources to give a fuller picture.

Further information is available in A guide to labour market statistics.

Sampling variability information for jobs is available in Table 1 in this bulletin and in Dataset JOBS07.

The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is around plus or minus 1.5% of that level.

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8. You might also be interested in

Labour market economic commentary

Article | Released 16 April 2019
Additional economic analysis of the latest UK labour market headline statistics and long-term trends.

UK Business Register and Employment Survey

Bulletin | Released 27 September 2018
Estimates of employee and employment estimates by detailed geography and industry.

Public sector employment

Bulletin | Released 19 March 2019
Estimates of people employed in the public and private sectors in the UK.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Richard Clegg
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455400