Vacancies and jobs in the UK: August 2023

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

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Email Karen L Grovell

Release date:
15 August 2023

Next release:
12 September 2023

2. Main points

  • The number of vacancies in May to July 2023 was 1,020,000, a decrease of 66,000 from February to April 2023

  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 13th consecutive period in May to July 2023, down by 6.0% from February to April 2023, with vacancies falling in 13 of the 18 industry categories.

  • In May to July 2023, total vacancies were down by 256,000 from the level of a year ago, although they remained 219,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.

  • In April to June 2023 the number of unemployed people per vacancy was 1.4, up from 1.2 the previous quarter (January to March 2023) as the number of vacancies fell while unemployment rose.

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3. Vacancies for May to July 2023

In May to July 2023 the estimated number of vacancies fell by 66,000 on the quarter to 1,020,000, the 13th consecutive period to see a quarterly fall since April to June 2022, and the longest sustained fall in vacancies since January 2008 to June 2009.

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

In May to July 2023 the number of vacancies fell by 6.0% from the previous quarter, with decreases in 13 of the 18 industry sectors. The industries showing the largest falls were professional, scientific and technical activities and administrative and support service activities which fell by 13.2% and 12.7%, respectively. The sectors showing the strongest growth were real estate activities and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply growing by 17.4% and 11.9% respectively.

May to July 2023 saw the number of vacancies continue to fall on the quarter, decreasing by 66,000. The industry sectors displaying the largest falls in vacancy numbers were professional, scientific and technical activities and human health and social work activities, down on the quarter by 15,000 and 11,000 respectively. Notably, the combined growth across the five industries where vacancies increased this quarter was only 4,600, with real estate contributing the most with 2,100 vacancies.

When comparing May to July 2023 with the same time last year, total vacancies decreased by 256,000 (20%). The largest falls were in accommodation and food service activities and professional, scientific and technical activities, which were down by 47,000 and 38,000 respectively. However, despite persistent falls in the number of vacancies over the last year, the total number of vacancies remain 219,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 46,000.

In April to June 2023 the number of unemployed people per vacancy was at 1.4, up from 1.2 in the previous quarter. While this ratio remains low by historical standards, this quarterly increase suggests a slight easing of recent tightness in the labour market. This follows consecutive falls in vacancy numbers and increases in the number of unemployed people.

In May to July 2023, every business size band saw a fall in the number of vacancies when compared with the previous quarter.

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4. Jobs, vacancies and wider labour market measures

Our estimated number of workforce jobs for March 2023 (next updated September 2023) was a record high of 36.8 million, an increase of 395,000 jobs since December 2022 and an increase of 1.2 million since December 2019.

The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, with both components increasing in the quarter to March 2023. Employee jobs in March 2023 were at a record high of 32.4 million, 1.6 million above their December 2019 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level. However, this rate of growth has not been seen in the self-employment jobs which remain 454,000 below December 2019 levels. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs up to March 2023, can also be seen in the number of pay-rolled employees reported in the Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset, which had increased every month since February 2021.

Across industries the recovery has varied, with 9 of the 20 sectors still below their pre-pandemic levels in March 2023. The sectors including wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, and construction saw a large number of job losses. This has been offset by large gains in human health and social work; professional, scientific and technical activities; and transport and storage.

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5. Vacancies and job data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 15 August 2023
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 13 June 2023
Estimates of jobs by type of job (including employee jobs, self-employment jobs, HM Forces and government-supported trainees).

Workforce jobs by industry
Dataset JOBS02 | Released 13 June 2023
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06:Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 15 August 2023
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 organization 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 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 release.

A more detailed glossary is available.

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7. Measuring the data

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


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

An 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 Survey 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 the Vacancy Survey, a survey of employers. Our Adzuna Online job advert  estimatesare also published as part of the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators - Office for National Statistics ( 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 QMI and Workforce jobs QMI.

Sampling variability

The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is around 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 previous release.

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10. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 15 August 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, UK Labour market: August 2023.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Karen L Grovell
Telephone: +44 1633  456103