The number of job vacancies in April to June 2021 was 9.9% (77,500) above its pre-pandemic level in January to March 2020 the first time it has surpassed this level in 15 months.
From April to June 2021 there were an estimated 862,000 job vacancies, with growth of 38.8% (241,200) compared with last quarter; all but one industry saw increases in their number of vacancies; the largest percentage increase was seen in arts, entertainment and recreation.
The rate of recovery has varied across industries since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began with the majority of industries displaying higher vacancy numbers than in January to March 2020; with human health and social work increasing the most by 18,400.
Since lockdown restrictions eased, all company size bands have displayed improved vacancy numbers on the quarter.
In April to June 2021, the estimated number of vacancies reached its highest level since August to October 2018, with growth continuing in the most recent quarterly estimates in all industries except public administration and defence; compulsory social security.
The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages that naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in June 2021 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Strengths and limitations), in Dataset x06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates. Both of these experimental datasets show growth in the latest quarter, and June 2021 estimates continue to surpass their pre-pandemic levels.
Quarterly growth was reflected in 17 out of the 18 industries. Among the industries that saw a growth in vacancies on the quarter, the most notable was arts, entertainment and recreation, up 330.4%. It is also notable that five industries displayed a record number of vacancies from April to June 2021 with accommodation and food service activities increasing the most by 73,400 on the last quarter to 102,000. In this sector there is evidence of a shortage of skilled staff and of employees finding alternative areas of employment prior to the sector reopening.
Job vacancies from April to June 2021 were 9.9% above their pre-pandemic level (January to March 2020), the first time this has been surpassed in 15 months. The rate of recovery since the start of the pandemic has varied across industries but most are now displaying vacancy numbers exceeding levels seen from January to March 2020. The largest increases are in human health and social work up 13.6% (18,400) and accommodation and food service activities up 21.1% (17,800) with the latter category also having the highest ratio of vacancies per 100 employee jobs, at 4.5.
Only three industries show vacancies below their pre-pandemic level, these are: mining and quarrying, transport and storage, and wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, but all three have improved since last quarter, providing further evidence of recovery in businesses' demand for staff.
Through April to June 2021 all company size bands continued to add vacancies on the quarter and only the largest-sized companies are below their January to March 2020 pre-pandemic levels.Back to table of contents
Our estimated number of workforce jobs is for March 2021, (next update expected in September 2021), shows a fall of 1.1 million compared with pre-pandemic December 2019 levels. Over the same period, vacancies dropped by 182,000, giving a combined fall in labour demand of a little under 1.3 million. Since March 2021, vacancies have increased by 241,000.
Given the fall in labour demand, the number of people in work has naturally dropped, as reported on our Labour Force Survey employment estimates, and by HM Revenue and Customs on the number of payrolled employees.
However, the most recent estimates show signs of recovery with a quarterly increase in the employment rate, alongside an increase in the numbers of payrolled employees.Back to table of contents
Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 15 July 2021
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 15 June 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 15 June 2021
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
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.
Be aware there have been ongoing developments to the weighting of Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates during the pandemic. Because of these:
for our July 2021 publication, estimates of vacancies per unemployed person have been revised back to the beginning of 2020
for our September 2021 publication, we intend to revise the LFS-based components of workforce jobs back to the beginning of 2020
For more information on the changes to LFS weighting methodology through the pandemic 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 (STES).
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 Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS), 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 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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