The number of vacancies in March to May 2023 was 1,051,000, a decrease of 79,000 from December 2022 to February 2023.
Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 11th consecutive period in March to May 2023, down by 7% since December 2022 to February 2023, with vacancies falling in 13 of the 18 industry sectors.
In March to May 2023, total vacancies were down by 250,000 from the level of a year ago, although they remained 250,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.
In March 2023, workforce jobs rose by a record 395,000 on the quarter to a new record high of 36.8 million, with 8 of the 20 industry sectors at record high levels.
In March to May 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 79,000 to 1,051,000, the 11th consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter since May to July 2022.
The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in May 2023 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Section 8: Strengths and limitations of our March 2021 bulletin), in Dataset X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics), and our Adzuna Online job advert estimates dataset.
The total number of vacancies fell by 7.0% from the previous quarter, with financial and insurance activities and transport and storage contracting the most, falling by 18.7% and 18.3% respectively. There were also strong growths for real estate activities (29.2%) and other service activities (25.9%).
March to May 2023 was the 11th consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter, decreasing by 79,000. The industry sector showing the largest fall in vacancy numbers was accommodation and food service activities, falling by 15,000. There were similar falls for wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles and human health and social work activities, which fell by 14,000 and 13,000, respectively.
The fall in the number of vacancies reflects uncertainty across industries, as survey respondents continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back on recruitment.
When comparing March to May 2023 with the same time last year, when the number of vacancies was at a record high, total vacancies decreased by 250,000 (19.2%) with falls in 15 of the 18 industry sectors. The industry with the largest fall was accommodation and food service activities, where the number of vacancies fell by 46,000. However, the total number of vacancies remains 250,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 56,000.
In February to April 2023, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was at 1.2, up slightly from 1.1 in November 2022 to January 2023. Though this ratio has increased, it remains low by historical standards and is indicative of a tight labour market, where demand for workers is outstripping the supply of workers.
March to May 2023 saw vacancies fall for all size bands when compared with the previous quarter.Back to table of contents
Figure 4 shows estimates of workforce jobs for March 2023.
The estimates are provided from various sources. Those of employee jobs in the private sector come from surveys relating to a reference date 10 March 2023, whereas those of self-employment jobs come from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from the start of February to the end of April 2023. This is outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data.
In March 2023, UK workforce jobs rose to a new record of 36.8 million. This is an increase of 395,000 since December 2022, with the largest contribution from employee jobs of 308,000, and additional rises in self-employment jobs of 82,000 and government-supported trainees of 6,000. The quarterly increase in total workforce jobs is the largest on record and was broadly based across a range of industries. In March 2023, the number of workforce jobs had surpassed its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic position (December 2019) by 1.2 million.
The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs. The former has risen every quarter since December 2020, resulting in a record high of 32.4 million and is 1.6 million above its December 2019 pre-coronavirus level. This growth has not been repeated in self-employment jobs which, despite an increase in the latest period, remain 454,000 below December 2019 levels. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs up to March 2023, is also reflected in the number of employees on payroll reported in the Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset, which has risen over the same time period.
The effect coronavirus had on job numbers has varied across the labour market, with 9 of the 20 industry sectors still below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. The hardest hit sector, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicle and motorcycles, saw the largest fall in job numbers, at 126,000. However, the majority of industries displayed increases, with the largest from human health and social work, which was up 325,000 and professional, scientific and technical activities, which was up 255,000, helping to keep total workforce jobs above pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. In March 2023, alongside those two industries, six further industries had reached record high numbers of workforce jobs.
On the quarter, 16 industry sectors grew from December 2022, contributing to the increase of 395,000 in the total workforce jobs estimate. The largest increase came from human health and social work activities up by 90,000 and is the largest quarterly increase ever seen in this category. The next largest increase was in accommodation and food service activities, which was up 51,000. The combined decrease across the four industries that fell in March 2023 was 17,000, with other service activities having the largest individual fall at 12,000.Back to table of contents
Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 13 June 2023
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 13 June 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 13 June 2023
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).
X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 13 June 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
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 email@example.com.
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 pandemic please see our article on the Labour Force 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 coronavirus social distancing measures.
For more information on how jobs data are measured, please see Section 7: Measuring the data in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2021 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||United Kingdom|
|Estimate for Mar|
|Sampling variability of|
estimate [note 1]
|B||Mining & quarrying||56||±4|
|D||Electricity, gas, steam & |
air conditioning supply
|E||Water supply, sewerage, waste |
& remediation activities
|G||Wholesale & retail trade; repair |
of motor vehicles and
|H||Transport & storage||1,954||±50|
|I||Accommodation & food|
|J||Information & communication||1,704||±50|
|K||Financial & insurance|
|L||Real estate activities||699||±41|
|M||Professional scientific & |
|N||Administrative & support |
|O||Public admin & defence; |
compulsory social security
|Q||Human health & social |
|R||Arts, entertainment & recreation||1,010||±47|
|S/T||Other service activities/Private |
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
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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