Vacancies and jobs in the UK: December 2019

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

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This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Mark Williams

Release date:
17 December 2019

Next release:
21 January 2020

1. Other pages in this release

Other commentary from the latest labour market data can be found on the following pages:

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2. Main points

  • The level of vacancies has been falling consistently since early 2019 after achieving a record high in January.

  • There were an estimated 794,000 vacancies in the UK for September to November 2019; 20,000 fewer than last quarter and 59,000 fewer than a year earlier.

  • The 59,000 annual fall in vacancies is the strongest fall since October to December 2009 when there was an annual decrease of 72,000 vacancies compared with the year earlier.

  • For September 2019, there was an estimated 35.75 million jobs in the UK, an increase of 77,000 jobs when compared to June 2019 and an increase of 652,000 jobs when compared with the year earlier.

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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. Vacancies

The estimated number of vacancies in the UK fell sharply during the recession of 2008 to 2009. Since 2012, it has generally increased although it has been falling since early 2019. For September to November 2019, there were an estimated 794,000 vacancies in the UK, 20,000 fewer than for the previous quarter (June to August 2019) and 59,000 fewer than for the previous year.

For September to November 2019 it is estimated that:

  • there were an estimated 794,000 vacancies in the UK, 20,000 fewer than for the three months to August 2019 (this is the tenth consecutive fall on the previous three months) and 59,000 fewer than a year earlier (this is the sixth consecutive annual fall)

  • there were 2.6 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs across the economy as a whole; this rate has not been as low since June-August 2017

  • there were 137,000 vacancies in the human health and social work activities sector (making it the largest sector for the sixth consecutive period); this accounted for 17.2% of all vacancies in the UK, this is a rise of 6,000 compared to a year earlier

  • there were an estimated 49,000 vacancies in the manufacturing sector; this is a fall of 12,000 compared to a year earlier

  • the sector showing the highest vacancy rate was accommodation and food service activities (4.0 vacancies per 100 employee jobs)

  • the sectors showing the lowest vacancy rate were “construction”, “public admin and defence” and “water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities” (all 1.8 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs)

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4. Jobs

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.

  • The number of jobs has been generally increasing since 2013

  • Between June 2019 and September 2019, the total number of jobs in the UK increased by 77,000 to reach an estimated 35.75 million, this is a record high

  • There were an estimated 4.98 million jobs in the "wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles" sector in September 2019; this represents 13.9% of total jobs in September 2019. The next highest sector is "human health and social work" with an estimated 4.49 million jobs

  • Several sectors were at a record high in September 2019; including "human health and social work" (4.49 million jobs), "administrative and support service activities" (3.09 million jobs), "education" (2.95 million jobs) and "accommodation and food service activities" (2.51 million jobs)

  • Between September 2018 and September 2019, the total number of jobs in the UK increased by 652,000

The sector showing the largest estimated quarterly increase in jobs was administrative & support service activities (up 29,000 on the quarter).

The sector showing the largest estimated annual increase in jobs was professional, scientific and technical activities (up 149,000 on the year).

The sector showing the largest estimated quarterly and annual decrease in jobs was construction (down 42,000 on the quarter, 59,000 on the year).

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 17 December 2019
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 17 December 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 17 December 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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6. Glossary

Vacancies

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).

Jobs

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.

A more detailed Glossary is available.

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7. 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.

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

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8. Strengths and limitations

Accuracy of the statistics: estimating and reporting uncertainty

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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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Mark Williams
labour.market@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 456728