1. Other pages in this release
Other commentary from the latest labour market data can be found on the following pages:Back to table of contents
2. Main points
There were an estimated 805,000 vacancies in the UK for October to December 2019; this is 11,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 49,000 fewer than a year earlier.
Despite the fall in vacancies in recent periods, vacancy levels are still high after reaching a record level in January 2019.
For September 2019, there were an estimated 35.75 million jobs in the UK, an increase of 77,000 jobs when compared with June 2019 and an increase of 652,000 jobs when compared with the same period the previous year.
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.
3. Vacancies for October to December 2019
Figure 1: The number of vacancies in the UK has been falling since early 2019 but remains high in historical terms, above 800,000
Number of vacancies in the UK, seasonally adjusted, October to December 2001 to October to December 2019
Source: Office for National Statistics – Vacancy Survey
Download this chart Figure 1: The number of vacancies in the UK has been falling since early 2019 but remains high in historical terms, above 800,000Image .csv .xls
The estimated number of vacancies in the UK fell sharply during the recession of 2008 to 2009. Since 2012, it has generally increased, reaching a record high in January 2019, although it has been falling since early 2019. For October to December 2019, there were an estimated 805,000 vacancies in the UK, 11,000 fewer than for the previous quarter (July to September 2019) and 49,000 fewer than for the previous year.
Figure 2: The vacancy rate for accommodation and food service activities has been consistently higher than for other sectors
Job Vacancies per 100 employee jobs for selected industries in the UK, seasonally adjusted, October to December 2001 to October to December 2019
Source: Office for National Statistics – Vacancy Survey
- The sharp upward movement in the public sector series in early 2011 was because of the recruitment of temporary census enumerator jobs by the Office for National Statistics.
Download this chart Figure 2: The vacancy rate for accommodation and food service activities has been consistently higher than for other sectorsImage .csv .xls
For October to December 2019, it is estimated that:
there were an estimated 805,000 vacancies in the UK, 11,000 fewer than for the three months to September 2019 (this is the 11th consecutive fall on the previous three months) and 49,000 fewer than a year earlier (this is the seventh consecutive annual fall)
there were 2.7 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs across the economy as a whole
there were 137,000 vacancies in the human health and social work activities sector (making it the largest sector for the seventh consecutive period); this accounted for 17.1% of all vacancies in the UK, a rise of 7,000 compared with a year earlier
there were an estimated 51,000 vacancies in the manufacturing sector; this is a fall of 11,000 compared with a year earlier
the sector showing the highest vacancy rate was accommodation and food service activities, with 3.9 vacancies per 100 employee jobs
the sectors showing the lowest vacancy rate were “construction” and “water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities”, both at 1.7 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs
4. Jobs for September 2019 (first published on 17 December 2019)
Figure 3: 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
Number of jobs in the UK, seasonally adjusted, September 2019
Source: Office for National Statistics – Workforce jobs
Download this chart Figure 3: Between June 2019 and September 2019, the total number of jobs in the UK increased by 77,000 to reach an estimated 35.75 millionImage .csv .xls
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.
It is estimated that:
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 was “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
Figure 4: The number of administrative and support service activity jobs increased by 29,000 between June and September 2019
Changes in the number of jobs in the UK between June and September 2019, seasonally adjusted
Source: Office for National Statistics – Workforce jobs
Download this chart Figure 4: The number of administrative and support service activity jobs increased by 29,000 between June and September 2019Image .csv .xls
The sector showing the largest estimated quarterly increase in jobs was “administrative and 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 and 59,000 on the year).
These jobs estimates were first published on 17 December 2019. The jobs estimates will next be updated on 17 March 2020.Back to table of contents
5. Vacancies and jobs data
Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 21 January 2020
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 (including 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).
|SIC 2007 Section||Estimate for Sept 2019||Sampling variability of estimate¹|
|A||Agriculture, forestry and fishing||409||±41|
|B||Mining and quarrying||58||±5|
|D||Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply||144||±11|
|E||Water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities||247||±9|
|G||Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles||4,936||±59|
|H||Transport and storage||1,798||±47|
|I||Accommodation and food service activities||2,506||±55|
|J||Information and communication||1,520||±48|
|K||Financial and insurance activities||1,128||±27|
|L||Real estate activities||615||±36|
|M||Professional scientific and technical activities||3,242||±75|
|N||Administrative and support service activities||3,087||±61|
|O||Public admin and defence; compulsory social security||1,522||±13|
|Q||Human health and social work activities||4,485||±65|
|R||Arts, entertainment and recreation||1,036||±43|
|S/T||Other service activities and private households||1,048||±43|
Download this table Table 1: Sampling variability for estimates of jobs in the UK, thousands, September 2019.xls .csv
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; this is 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 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 (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.Back to table of contents
7. Measuring the data
Estimates of jobs are compiled from a number of sources, including Short-Term Employment 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 (BRES).
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.Back to table of contents
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 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: Workforce jobs sampling variability.
The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is around plus or minus 1.5% of that level.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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