The estimated number of vacancies in September to November 2023 was 949,000, a decrease of 45,000, down by 4.5% since June to August 2023 with vacancies falling in 16 of the 18 industry sectors.
Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 17th consecutive period in September to November 2023, the longest consecutive run of quarterly falls ever recorded.
In September to November 2023, total estimated vacancies were down by 229,000 from the level of a year ago, although they remained 148,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 levels.
The industry sectors showing the largest annual decreases in the number of vacancies were human health and social work, and professional, scientific and technical activities, which both fell by 34,000 from the equivalent period last year.
The estimated number of workforce jobs in September 2023 was 36.8 million, an increase of 210,000 from June 2023.
In September to November 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 45,000 to 949,000, the 17th consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter and the lowest number of vacancies since April to June 2021.
The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in November 2023 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Section 8: Strengths and limitations), in our Dataset X06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates. Both experimental sources fell in November 2023.
The estimated total number of vacancies fell by 4.5% from the previous quarter, with arts, entertainment and recreation contracting the most, falling by 19.9%. The only industry sector to increase their estimated number of vacancies on the quarter is mining and quarrying.
September to November 2023 was the 17th consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter, decreasing by an estimated 45,000. The industry sector showing the largest fall in vacancy numbers was wholesale, retail; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which was down by 8,000. The current period of consecutive quarterly declines in the vacancy estimates is the longest ever recorded.
When comparing September to November 2023 with the same time last year, total vacancies decreased by 229,000 (19.5%) with falls in 17 of the 18 industry sectors. The industries that decreased the most were human health and social work, and professional, scientific and technical activities, where the estimated number of vacancies fell in both by 34,000.
The total estimated number of vacancies remains 148,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 39,000. Five industry sectors fell below pre-pandemic levels with wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles falling the most by an estimated 4,000 vacancies.
In September to November 2023 the ratio of vacancies per 100 employee jobs was 3.0, following a downward trend since April to June 2022 when it was at 4.1. Accommodation and food service activities currently has the highest ratio at 4.8, but follows a similar pattern, falling from 7.2 over the same period.
While most size bands fell on the quarter, the smallest size band decreased the most falling by 13.2%, while the 50 to 249 size band was the only one to increase.Back to table of contents
Figure 4 shows estimates of workforce jobs for September 2023.
The estimates are provided from various sources. Employee jobs in the private sector are drawn from surveys relating to a reference date of 15 September 2023. Self-employment job estimates for September 2023 have been projected because of the unavailability of data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS); this is outlined in the Estimates used for projections in workforce jobs in Section 7: Measuring the data.
In September 2023, UK workforce jobs increased to a record 36.8 million. This is a rise of 210,000 since June 2023, with the quarterly increase of 179,000 in employee jobs having the largest contribution. The projected estimates for self-employment jobs and government supported trainees also displayed small increases. The estimated number of workforce jobs is 1.1 million above its December 2019 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level.
The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs. The former has been on a largely upwards trend since September 2020 resulting in a record high of 32.5 million and is 1.8 million above its December 2019 pre-pandemic level. This level of growth has not been repeated in self-employment jobs where estimates remain 625,000 below December 2019 levels. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs up to September 2023 is also reflected in the number of employees on payroll reported in our Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset, which has shown a similar growth pattern over the same time period.
The total number of workforce jobs hit a record high of 36.8 million in September 2023, despite 8 of the 20 industry sectors still being below pre-pandemic levels. The hardest hit sector was wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicle and motorcycles which fell by 253,000 jobs. However, most industries are above their December 2019 pre-pandemic levels, with the largest from human health and social work which was up 395,000 followed by accommodation and food service activities which was up 291,000. In September 2023, human health and social work reached a new record high of 4.8 million, with further record highs recorded in administrative and support service activities, accommodation and food service activities, and water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities.
On the quarter, the number of workforce jobs increased in 14 industry sectors, contributing to the increase of 210,000 in the total workforce jobs estimate. The largest increase came from professional, scientific and technical activities, which was up by 57,000. The next largest increase was in human health and social work which was up 39,000. The largest individual fall in the estimated number of workforce jobs on the quarter was in construction, which fell by 5,000.Back to table of contents
Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 12 December 2023
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 12 December 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 12 December 2023
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 12 December 2023
Single month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted.
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 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.Back to table of contents
Estimates used for projections in workforce jobs
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) data that are required to produce elements of the workforce jobs statistics are not available for September 2023. Statistics for self-employment jobs, employee jobs (industries A and T) and English government-supported trainees are estimated using projections. Projections were derived using exponential smoothing, which can be thought of as a weighted average of past values. There is an increased level of uncertainty associated with projected estimates. For more information, see our Update on the LFS.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revisions have been made to the workforce jobs series as a result of benchmarking to the latest estimates of the annual Business Register and Employment Survey, revisions to public sector employment, revisions to Northern Ireland employee jobs estimates and revisions to Short-Term Employment Surveys.
There were also revisions to the government-supported trainees (GST) from the devolved administrations, revisions to HM Forces and changes to seasonal parameters following a seasonal adjustment review.
For more information about 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 estimates at this time.
Our Comparison of labour market data sources article, published on 11 December 2020, compares labour market data sources and discusses some of the main changes to the data sources used.
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 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. Adzuna Online job advert estimates are also published as part of our 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 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).
Further information on revisions to the LFS are explained in 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 COVID-19 social distancing measures.
For more information on how jobs data are measured, please see the Measuring the Data section in our previous bulletin.
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.
|SIC 2007 Section
of estimate [note 1]
|Agriculture, forestry & fishing
|Mining & quarrying
|Electricity, gas, steam &
air conditioning supply
|Water supply, sewerage, waste
& remediation activities
|Wholesale & retail trade; repair of
motor vehicles and motorcycles
|Transport & storage
|Accommodation & food service activities
|Information & communication
|Financial & insurance activities
|Real estate activities
|Professional scientific & technical activities
|Administrative & support service activities
|Public admin & defence;
compulsory social security
|Human health & social work activities
|Arts, entertainment & recreation
|Other service activities/Private Households
Download this table Table 1: Sampling variability for estimates of jobs in the UK, thousands.xls .csv
Information on the strengths and limitations of this bulletin are available in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2021 bulletin.Back to table of contents
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