Vacancies and jobs in the UK: November 2021

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

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Release date:
16 November 2021

Next release:
14 December 2021

2. Main points

  • The number of job vacancies in August to October 2021 continued to rise to a new record of 1,172,000, an increase of 388,000 from the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 level, with 15 of the 18 industry sectors showing record highs.

  • On the quarter, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down; in August to October 2021 vacancies rose 222,000 (23.4%), down from 288,000 (43.4%) last quarter, and the largest quarterly increase was seen in "wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles" up 29,600 (24.8%).

  • In August to October 2021 all industry sectors were above their January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, with accommodation and food service activities increasing the most by 66,500 (79%).

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3. Vacancies for August to October 2021

August to October 2021 saw the rate of growth slowing down. Despite this, all industries increased their vacancy numbers on the quarter. The recent growth in vacancies over the preceding periods has been the major contributing factor to the July to September 2021 unemployed person per vacancy ratio falling to a record low of 1.3.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insight into trends in October 2021 are provided by two experimental sources: single-month vacancy estimates (see Strengths and limitations), in Dataset x06, and with regional vacancy information Adzuna's online job advert estimates. Both sources reached record levels of vacancy numbers in October 2021.

While the overall rate of vacancy growth has slowed recently, the number of vacancies has increased across all industries. The fastest rates of growth compared with last quarter were seen in construction (41.1%) and transport and storage (40.4%).

The largest increase in vacancy numbers on the quarter was in wholesale and retail trade with repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles growing by 29,600 (24.8%). A further 14 industry groups posted record numbers of vacancies, with the largest increases in accommodation and food service activities (25,100), manufacturing (24,300), and professional, scientific and technical activities (22,900). These figures support the evidence that many business sectors are struggling to fill vacancies because of a number of social and economic reasons. A more detailed study of these circumstances can be found in a dataset investigating recruitment difficulties across affected sectors.

August to October 2021 saw all industries above their January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, with the largest increase in accommodation and food service activities up by 66,500 (79.0%). The reopening of the economy earlier this year aided the growth in vacancies; from the period April to June 2021, when the vacancy figure first exceeded pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, the total number of vacancies has increased by 309,500 (35.9%)

The current ratio of 3.9 vacancies to 100 employees remains the highest on record with all industries increasing on the quarter. Accommodation and food service activities continued with the highest ratio of 6.7 vacancies to every 100 employees.

All industry size bands have been increasing their numbers of vacancies consistently since January to March 2021 reaching new record levels this period.

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4. Jobs, vacancies and wider labour market measures

Our estimated number of workforce jobs for June 2021 (next updated December 2021), shows a fall of 856,000 compared with pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in December 2019. Since December 2019 vacancies have increased by 59,000 over the same period, giving a combined fall in labour demand of a little under 800,000. Despite this fall in labour demand, in the period April to June 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 June 2021 workforce jobs figures signify a recovery. They are up 293,000 from March 2021, the largest quarterly increase since March 2014, alongside vacancies, which increased 242,000 over the same period.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 16 November 2021
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 14 September 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 September 2021
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 16 November 2021
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted

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6. Glossary


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.

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7. Measuring the data

 Consultation on the Code of Practice for Statistics - proposed change to 9.30am release practice

On behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is conducting a consultation on the Code of Practice for Statistics, proposing changes to the 9:30am release practice. Please send comments by 21 December 2021 to

Upcoming Revisions

In the December 2021 publication we shall be making revisions to the Workforce Jobs (WFJ) dataset after benchmarking to the latest estimates in the provisional annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) 2020 figures, and revised BRES 2019 figures.

Revisions to Public Sector Employment (PSE) from June 2017, the Short-Term Employment Survey (STES) from June 2020 and seasonal adjustment from March 1981 will also be effective in next month's WFJ release.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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. This publication of Workforce Jobs statistics is the first to take on these revised LFS estimates. 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 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 adverts are also published as part of the Coronavirus and the latest indicators 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

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

Sampling variability

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.

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8. Strengths and limitations

Information of the strengths and limitations of this bulletin are available in our previous release.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Tom Evans
Telephone: +44 1633 651833