Vacancies and jobs in the UK: October 2021

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

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Release date:
12 October 2021

Next release:
16 November 2021

2. Main points

  • The number of job vacancies in July to September 2021 was a record high of 1,102,000 - an increase of 318,000 from its pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level; this was the second consecutive month the three-month average has risen over one million.

  • July to September 2021 saw continued growth across the majority of sectors with 12 of the 18 categories displaying a record number of vacancies; the largest quarterly increase was seen in Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which was up 35,000 (32.4%)

  • Across the majority of industry sectors the rate of growth in vacancies began to slow down; vacancies rose by 239,000 (27.7%) in July to September 2021, down from 242,000 (38.9%) last quarter.

  • In July to September 2021, all industry sectors are above or equal to their January to March 2020 pre-pandemic levels with accommodation and food service activities increasing the most, by nearly 50,000 (59%).

  • All industry size bands displayed a record number of vacancies in July to September 2021.

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3. Vacancies for July to September 2021

In July to September 2021, the estimated number of vacancies recorded was at its highest level since records began, with the majority of industries growing on the quarter. In the same period there were 3.7 vacancies for every 100 employee jobs, also a record high. 

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Strengths and limitations), in Dataset x06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates provide insight into trends in September 2021. The single-month vacancy estimates recorded almost 1.2 million in September 2021, which is a record high.

The majority of industries saw quarterly growth. The fastest rate of growth was seen in transport and storage, which grew by 56.1% (18,500).

While the rate of vacancy growth has slowed recently, the number of vacancies is still escalating across most industries. The largest increase in vacancy numbers was in wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which grew by 35,100 (32.4%). Other industries also saw large increases in vacancy numbers, namely accommodation and food service activities (24,600), professional, scientific and technical activities (24,400) and manufacturing (20,300). The latter two industries, alongside 10 others, posted a record number of vacancies in July to September 2021.

Recent ONS analysis shows that the high number of vacancies for some sectors coincided with vacancies being more difficult to fill than usual. This analysis also explores how the reasons for these difficulties varied by sector, considering factors such as the age and nationality of applicants.

July to September 2021 saw all industries above or equal to their January to March 2020 pre-pandemic levels, with the largest increase in accommodation and food service activities up by 49,700 vacancies. Only mining and quarrying remained at its January to March 2020 pre-pandemic level.

Reinforcing the growth in vacancies, alongside the difficulty in filling positions, the current ratio of 3.7 vacancies per 100 employee jobs is the highest on record, with accommodation and food service activities the industry with the highest ratio at 5.9.

The signs of recovery are strong across all of the industry size bands with each one displaying record highs in July to September 2021.

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4. Jobs, vacancies and wider labour market measures

Our estimated number of workforce jobs for June 2021 (next updated in December 2021) shows a fall of 856,000 compared with pre-pandemic December 2019. Over the same period vacancies increased by 59,000, giving a combined fall in labour demand of a little under 800,000. Despite this fall in labour demand, there was a quarterly increase in the employment rate in the period April to June 2021, also reflected by HM Revenue and Customs in earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information on the number of payrolled employees.

The June 2021 workforce jobs figures help to signify a recovery, being up 293,000 from March 2021, the largest quarterly increase since March 2014. This is 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 12 October 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 12 October 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


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 the 15 July 2021 an improved LFS weighting methodology, better accounting for population changes through the COVID-19 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 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 Conditions 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 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