Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2024

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

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Release date:
16 April 2024

Next release:
14 May 2024

2. Main points

  • The estimated number of vacancies in January to March 2024 was 916,000, a decrease of 13,000 or 1.4% from October to December 2023.

  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 21st consecutive period in January to March 2024, despite vacancies falling in only 8 of the 18 industry sectors.

  • Total estimated vacancies were down by 204,000 in January to March 2024 from the level of a year previously, although they remained 120,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.

  • The number of unemployed people per vacancy was 1.6 in December 2023 to February 2024, up from 1.4 the previous quarter (September to November 2023), with vacancies falling and unemployment increasing.

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3. Vacancies for January to March 2024

The series of quarterly falls in vacancy numbers continued in January to March 2024, falling for the 21st consecutive period. The total number of vacancies has declined by an estimated 383,000 since April to June 2022.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in March 2024 are provided by two alternative data sources, single-month vacancy estimates Dataset X06 (see Strengths and limitations) and official statistics in development Adzuna Online job advert estimates. The single-month vacancy estimates in Dataset X06 increased for the third consecutive month in March 2024, but caution is advised when viewing these results because these data are not seasonally adjusted.

The estimated total number of vacancies fell in January to March 2024 by 1.4% from October to December 2023, with arts, entertainment and recreation contracting the most, falling by 18.3%.

The estimated number of vacancies was down on the previous quarter by 13,000 to 916,000. This is the smallest quarterly fall since this sequence of declines began in May to July 2022. The industry showing the largest fall in vacancy numbers was human health and social work activities, which was down by 9,000 from the previous quarter.

When comparing January to March 2024 with the same time the previous year, total vacancies decreased by 204,000 (18.2%), with falls in 16 of the 18 industry sectors. The industry that decreased the most was human health and social work activities, where the estimated number of vacancies fell by 41,000.

The total estimated number of vacancies remains 120,000 above its January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level. Human health and social work activities had the largest increase, at 24,000, followed by accommodation and food service activities, which was up 22,000. In January to March 2024, three industry sectors were below pre-coronavirus levels with a combined fall of 24,000 vacancies; wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles made the largest downward contribution with a decrease of 12,000.

The number of unemployed people to every vacancy rose to 1.6 in December 2023 to February 2024, from 1.4 the previous quarter, because of declining vacancy numbers alongside rising unemployment.

Only employers in the 10 to 49 persons employed size-band increased their vacancies on the quarter, up by 5.0%. All the other employer size-bands declined, with the sharpest fall in employers with 1 to 9 persons employed, down by 6.5%.

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4. Jobs, vacancies and wider labour market measures

Workforce jobs (WFJ) estimates are provided from various sources. Those of employee jobs in the private sector are drawn from surveys relating to a reference date of 15 December 2023, whereas those of self-employment jobs are drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from the start of November 2023 to January 2024. This is outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data.

In the March 2024 publication, WFJ incorporated the reweighted LFS data from September 2022 onwards. The reweighting exercise creates a discontinuity in total WFJ and self-employment jobs between June 2022 and September 2022 where there will be a step change. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development. Total WFJ and self-employment job comparisons are to be avoided before September 2022.

An issue was detected in the weighting of the LFS for Northern Ireland in our March 2024 publication, for the November 2023 to January 2024 quarter only. While only Northern Ireland data were affected, as a consequence we were not able to publish regional WFJ figures as part of the March 2024 release. We intend to publish full regional WFJ data as part of the next scheduled WFJ release in June 2024.

Our estimated number of workforce jobs for December 2023 (next updated June 2024) was 36.9 million, an increase of 125,000 jobs since September 2023. The largest individual increase came from transport and storage, which was up 63,000 on the quarter. The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, with the latest quarterly rise in employee jobs taking that component to 32.6 million.

Comparing with the equivalent period last year, WFJ were up by 586,000, with employee jobs up by 615,000 and self-employment jobs up by 7,000, while government-supported trainees and HM armed forces were showing a combined fall of 35,000. The growth in the employee jobs component of WFJ, in the 12 months up to December 2023, 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 also been on an upward trend over the same period.

Annually, growth in the workforce jobs estimates has varied, with 5 of the 20 industry sectors below December 2022 levels. The hardest hit sector, administrative and support service activities, saw the largest fall in job numbers, at 32,000. However, most industries showed increases, with the largest from human health and social work activities, which was up by an estimated 213,000 jobs.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 16 April 2024
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 12 March 2024
Estimates of jobs by type of job (including employee jobs, self-employment jobs, HM armed forces and government-supported trainees).

Workforce jobs by industry
Dataset JOBS02 | Released 12 March 2024
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 16 April 2024
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted.

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6. Glossary


Positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organisation are defined as vacancies. 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).


An activity performed for an employer or customer by a worker in exchange for payment, usually in cash, or in kind, or both, is defined as a job. 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 armed 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 releases.

A more detailed glossary is available.

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7. Measuring the data

Important note

This vacancies and jobs bulletin includes revisions of estimates of vacancies back to the start of the series in 2001. Revisions 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).

From our March 2024 publication, we used the reweighted Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates in our workforce jobs estimates. The LFS estimates feeding into workforce jobs via employee jobs, self-employment jobs and government-supported trainees have been reweighted for periods from September 2022. LFS headline seasonally adjusted series before this have also been revised based on the recent reweighted estimates. However, it has not been possible to incorporate these revisions into workforce jobs so there is a discontinuity before September 2022. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development. For more information see our article Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators.

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read more about how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus pandemic in our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

For a comparison of our labour market data sources and the main differences, read our Comparison of labour market data sources 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 the Vacancy Survey, a survey of employers. Adzuna Online job advert estimates are also published as part of our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators release.


Estimates of jobs are compiled from a number of sources, including Short-Term Employment Surveys (STES), the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Surveys (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 (BRES).

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 the Measuring the data section in our previous release.

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

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 on 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 16 April 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2024

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Labour Market team
Telephone: +44 1633 455400