Vacancies and jobs in the UK: October 2023

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

This is not the latest release. View latest release

Email Karen L Grovell

Release date:
17 October 2023

Next release:
14 November 2023

1. Main points

  • The number of vacancies in July to September 2023 was 988,000, a decrease of 43,000 from April to June 2023. 

  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 15th consecutive period in July to September 2023, down by 4.2% since April to June 2023 with vacancies falling in 14 of the 18 industry sectors. 

  • In July to September 2023, total vacancies were down by 256,000 from the level of a year ago, although they remained 187,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 levels.  

Back to table of contents

2. Vacancies for July to September 2023

In July to September 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 43,000 to 988,000. This is the 15th consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter since May to July 2022 and the lowest number of vacancies since May to July 2021. 

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in September 2023 are provided by two experimental sources: single-month vacancy estimates (see Section 7: Strengths and limitations in Dataset X06, and Adzuna  Online job advert estimates.

The total number of vacancies fell by 4.2% from the previous quarter. Real estate activities and administrative and support service activities decreased the most, falling by 29.6% and 15.5%, respectively. The largest growth was in mining and quarrying, at 11.1%. 

July to September 2023 was the 15th consecutive period to show a fall on the quarter, decreasing by 43,000. The industry sector showing the largest fall in vacancy numbers was administration and support service activities, down by 10,000, closely followed by professional, scientific and technical activities, which was down by 9,000. Notably, the combined increase across the three industries that displayed growth this quarter was only slightly over 3,000. 

When comparing July to September 2023 with the same time last year, total vacancies decreased by 256,000 (20.6%), with falls in 15 of the 18 industry sectors. The industry that decreased the most was human health and social work activities, where the number of vacancies fell by 40,000.  

The total number of vacancies remains 187,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 43,000. Only real estate activities are currently below pre-pandemic levels. 

Only the smallest size band increased in July to September 2023, growing by 1.2%.

Back to table of contents

3. Jobs, vacancies and wider labour market measures

Our estimated number of workforce jobs for June 2023 (shown in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK: September 2023 bulletin was 36.7 million, a decrease of 153,000 jobs since March 2023. However, they remain 995,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) December 2019 levels.  

The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, with the latter causing the quarterly decrease. While employee jobs increased by 68,000 on the quarter to June 2022, self-employment jobs fell by 197,000. Subsequently, employee jobs are at a record high of 32.4 million and are 1.6 million above their December 2019 pre-pandemic levels, while self-employment jobs have not recovered and remain 651,000 below those of a pre-pandemic December 2019. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs up to June 2023 can also be seen in the number of pay-rolled employees reported in our Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset, which had increased every month since February 2021. 

Across industries the recovery has varied, with 8 of the 20 the sectors still below their pre-pandemic levels in June 2023. The sectors showing the largest increases in job numbers were human health and social work, which was up 333,000, and professional, scientific and technical activities, which was up 211,000. These gains were slightly offset by job losses in wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which remain 205,000 below December 2019 levels.

Back to table of contents

4. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 17 October 2023
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 12 September 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 12 September 2023
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 17 October 2023
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted.

Back to table of contents

5. Glossary


Positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organization 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

6. Measuring the data

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 us at


For more information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article published on 6 May 2020, which details some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimates at this time. 

Also see our Comparison of labour market data sources methodology, published 11 December 2020. 

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 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 LFS 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 the our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletin 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)

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 (COVID-19) pandemic social distancing measures. 

For more information on how jobs data are measured, please see the Measuring the Data section in our previous release Vacancies and jobs in the UK: April 2021 bulletin

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

Back to table of contents

7. 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.

Back to table of contents

9. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 17 October 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: October 2023

Back to table of contents

Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Karen L Grovell
Telephone: +44 1633 456103