The number of job vacancies in October to December 2021 rose to a new record of 1,247,000, an increase of 462,000 from the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level in January to March 2020.
In October to December 2021, the total number of vacancies increased by 127,800 (11.4%) on the quarter, with the largest increase seen in human health and social work which was up 26,800 (14.9%) to a new record of 206,000.
The quarterly rate of vacancy growth fell to 11.4% in October to December 2021, down from 29.7% last quarter, and follows consecutive falls from a peak of 43.4% in May to July 2021.
The ratio of vacancies to every 100 employee jobs reached a record high of 4.1 in October to December 2021.
October to December 2021 saw the rate of growth slowing down in 17 of the 18 industry sectors. The September to November 2021 unemployed people per vacancy figure has fallen to a record 1.1. The major contributing factor to this has been the recent growth in vacancies.
The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in December 2021 are provided by two experimental sources (see Strengths and limitations), in Dataset x06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates. Both sources displayed falls in December 2021, although consideration should be given that neither series is seasonally adjusted when compared with the three-month vacancy estimates.
Quarterly growth varied across industries, with the highest rates seen in mining and quarrying (21.4%) and accommodation and food service activities (17.2%), with the former being the only industry to increase its rate of growth on the quarter.
While the growth rate slows, the number of vacancies continues to rise across most industries. The largest quarterly increase in vacancy numbers was in human health and social work, which grew by 26,800 (14.9%). A further ten industry groups posted record numbers of vacancies, with other large increases in accommodation and food service activities (24,600) and professional, scientific and technical activities (17,000). These figures support the impression that labour demand remains elevated across a number of industries, while a more detailed report highlights how different occupations have been affected.
In October to December 2021 vacancies increased by 462,000 (58.9%) from January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels, with the largest increase in accommodation and food service activities up by 83,500 (99.2%). While vacancies continue to rise above their January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, the pace of this growth has slowed significantly since Summer 2021.
The current ratio of 4.1 vacancies to 100 employee jobs remains the highest on record, with 11 of the 18 industry groups displaying record high ratios. Accommodation and food service activities had the highest ratio of 7.4, which is double its January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus pandemic figure and reinforces the impression of difficulties in filling roles and retaining staff in this sector.
All industry size bands increased their number of vacancies on the quarter and from a pre-coronavirus pandemic January to March 2020, reaching record levels across every size band in this period.Back to table of contents
Our estimated number of workforce jobs grew for the third consecutive quarter in September 2021 (next updated March 2022) to 35.1 million; although it remained 525,000 below its pre-pandemic December 2019 figure. Over the same period vacancies increased by nearly 316,000, giving a combined fall in labour demand of 209,000. Despite this fall in labour demand, in the period July to September 2021 there was a quarterly increase in the employment rate, also reflected by HM Revenue and Customs earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information on the number of payrolled employees.
The recovery in workforce jobs varies considerably across its two major components. While there was an overall increase of 147,000 in September 2021 from June 2021, with employee jobs increasing by 269,000, this was offset by a fall in self-employment jobs of 125,000.Back to table of contents
Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 18 January 2022
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 14 December 2021
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 14 December 2021
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
X06:Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 18 January 2022
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted
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 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).
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
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 coronavirus pandemic was implemented, affecting periods from January to March 2020 onwards. For more information on the changes to LFS weighting methodology through the coronavirus pandemic please see our article on the LFS Survey weighting methodology.
Impact on production of vacancy and workforce job estimates
Because of social distancing measures leading to the temporary closure of businesses across the UK, there have been some difficulties in collecting data using the Vacancy Survey and the Short-Term Employment Surveys.
Survey response rates were lower than is typical. To protect the quality of our output, we have used alternative sources where possible to inform data. We have used Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) section-level indications from the Business insights and impact on the UK economy survey, as well as survey contributor-level comments provided to us over the telephone or electronically, as a guide on whether businesses are operational and likely, or not, to be actively recruiting and to confirm employment figures.
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 the Coronavirus and the latestindicators for the UK economy release.
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).
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
The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is around plus or minus 1.5% of that level expressed as a coefficient of variation, giving a 95% confidence interval for estimates of approximately plus or minus 20,000.
The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level for a typical industrial sector is around plus or minus 6% of that level.Back to table of contents
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