Vacancies and jobs in the UK: March 2024

Estimates of the number of vacancies and jobs for the UK.

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Release date:
12 March 2024

Next release:
16 April 2024

2. Main points

  • The estimated number of vacancies in December 2023 to February 2024 was 908,000, a decrease of 43,000 from September to November 2023.

  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 20th consecutive period in December 2023 to February 2024, down by 4.5% from September to November 2023, with the estimated number of vacancies falling in 14 of the 18 industry sectors.

  • Total estimated vacancies in December 2023 to February 2024 were down by 224,000 from the level of a year previously, although they remained 107,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.

  • The number of unemployed people per vacancy in November 2023 to January 2024 was 1.5, up from 1.4 the previous quarter (August to October 2023), as the number of vacancies continue to fall.

  • The total workforce jobs estimate rose in December 2023 by 125,000 on the quarter to 36.9 million, with increases in both employee jobs and self-employment jobs.

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3. Vacancies for December 2023 to February 2024

The series of quarterly falls in vacancy numbers continued in December 2023 to February 2024, falling for the 20th consecutive period. This is the longest sequence of quarterly falls since the data series began in 2001, and has seen the total number of vacancies decline by an estimated 391,000 since April to June 2022.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in February 2024 are provided by two alternative data sources: single-month vacancy estimates Dataset X06 (see Strengths and limitations), and Adzuna Online job advert estimates (official statistics in development).

The estimated total number of vacancies fell by 4.5% from the previous quarter, with arts, entertainment and recreation contracting the most, falling by 19.8%, followed by other service activities, which fell by 10.8%.

In December 2023 to February 2024, the estimated number of vacancies fell on the quarter by 43,000 to 908,000. The industry showing the largest fall in vacancy numbers was human health and social work activities, which was down by 13,000 from the previous quarter.

When comparing December 2023 to February 2024 with the same time the previous year, total vacancies decreased by 224,000 (19.8%), with falls in 16 of the 18 industry sectors. The industry that decreased the most was human health and social work activities, where the estimated number of vacancies fell by 47,000.

The total estimated number of vacancies remains 107,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 23,000. Four industry sectors fell below pre-coronavirus levels with a combined fall of 21,000 vacancies.

The number of unemployed people to every vacancy rose to 1.5 in November 2023 to January 2024, from 1.4 the previous quarter; this slight easing in labour demand follows continuous falls in the number of vacancies.

Every size band showed declining numbers of vacancies from the previous quarter, with the smallest size band declining the most at 11.9%.

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4. Jobs for December 2023

Workforce jobs estimates are provided from various sources. Those of employee jobs in the private sector are drawn from surveys relating to a reference date of 15 December 2023, whereas those of self-employment jobs are drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from the start of November 2023 to January 2024. This is outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data.

In this publication, workforce jobs incorporated the reweighted LFS data from September 2022 onwards. The reweighting exercise creates a discontinuity in total workforce jobs and self-employment jobs between June 2022 and September 2022 where there will be a step change. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development. Total workforce job and self-employment job comparisons are to be avoided from before September 2022.

An issue has been detected in the weighting of the Labour Force Survey for Northern Ireland for the November 2023 to January 2024 quarter only. While only Northern Ireland data are affected, as a consequence we are not able to publish regional Workforce Jobs figures as part of the March 2024 release. Publication of the UK data is not affected.

We intend to  publish full regional data as part of the next scheduled WFJ release.

Estimates of workforce jobs for December 2023 are shown in Figure 4. In December 2023, UK workforce jobs increased to 36.9 million. This is a rise of 125,000 since September 2023, with increases in employee jobs and self-employment jobs of 74,000 and 51,000, respectively.

The increase seen in workforce jobs is because employee jobs have risen every quarter since December 2020, resulting in a record high of nearly 32.6 million, and are 1.8 million above their December 2019 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level. This level of growth has not been seen in the self-employment component of workforce jobs.

Comparing with the equivalent period the previous year, workforce jobs are up by 586,000, with employee jobs up by 615,000, self-employment jobs up by 7,000, while government-supported trainees and HM Forces are showing a combined fall of 35,000. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs, in the 12 months up to December 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 have also been on an upward trend over the same period.

Annually, growth in the workforce jobs estimates has varied, with 5 of the 20 industry sectors below December 2022 levels. The hardest hit sector, administrative and support service activities, saw the largest fall in job numbers, at 32,000. However, most industries showed increases, with the largest from human health and social work activities, which was up by 213,000.

On the quarter, the number of workforce jobs increased in 10 of the 20 industry sectors from September 2023, contributing to an increase of 125,000 in the total workforce jobs estimate. The largest increases came from transport and storage, up by 63,000, and human health and social work, which was up by 48,000. The largest decrease was in professional, scientific and technical activities, which was down by 69,000.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 12 March 2024
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 12 March 2024
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 March 2024
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 12 March 2024
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted.

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6. Glossary


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.

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7. Measuring the data

Important note

We have reintroduced the reweighted Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates into our workforce jobs estimates in this publication. The LFS estimates feeding into workforce jobs via employee jobs, self-employment jobs and government-supported trainees have been reweighted for periods from September 2022. LFS headline seasonally adjusted series prior to this have also been revised based on the recent reweighted estimates. However, it has not been possible to incorporate these revisions into workforce jobs so there is a discontinuity before September 2022. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development. For more information see our article Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators.

The next vacancies and jobs bulletin (16 April 2024) will include revisions of estimates of vacancies back to the start of the data series in 2001. Revisions will result from a review of the seasonal adjustment parameters and from taking on updated sources of additional information. This is an annual process, as outlined in our Vacancy Survey Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read more about how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus pandemic in our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

For a comparison of our labour market data sources and the main differences, read our Comparison of labour market data sources 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 release.


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).

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 the Measuring the Data section in our previous release.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Vacancy Survey QMIand Workforce jobs QMI.

Sampling variability

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.

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8. Strengths and limitations

Information on the strengths and limitations of this bulletin are available in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2021 bulletin.

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10. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 12 March 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: March 2024

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Labour Market team
Telephone: +44 1633 455400