Vacancies and jobs in the UK: August 2019

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

Nid hwn yw'r datganiad diweddaraf. Gweld y datganiad diweddaraf

Email Mark Williams

Dyddiad y datganiad:
13 August 2019

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
10 September 2019

1. Other pages in this release

Other commentary from the latest labour market data can be found on the following pages:

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2. Main points

  • While the number of vacancies has been generally increasing since 2012, it has been falling since early 2019.

  • For May to July 2019, there were an estimated 820,000 vacancies in the UK, 20,000 fewer than a year earlier (this is the second consecutive annual fall) and 20,000 fewer than for the three months to April 2019 (this is the sixth consecutive fall on the previous three months).

  • There were an estimated 138,000 vacancies in the human health and social work sector in May to July 2019; this accounted for 16.8% of all vacancies in the UK.


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.

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3. Analysis of vacancies and jobs


The estimated number of vacancies in the UK fell sharply during the recession of 2008 to 2009. Since 2012, it has generally increased although it has been falling since early 2019. For May to July 2019, there were an estimated 820,000 vacancies in the UK, 20,000 fewer than a year earlier and 20,000 fewer than for the previous quarter (February to April 2019).

For May to July 2019 it is estimated that:

  • there were 138,000 vacancies in the human health and social work sector; this accounted for 16.8% of all vacancies in the UK

  • there were 2.7 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs across the economy as a whole

  • the sector showing the highest vacancy rate was accommodation and food services (4.0 vacancies per 100 employee jobs)

  • the sectors showing the lowest vacancy rate were public administration and defence and construction (both at 1.7 job vacancies per 100 employee jobs)

Jobs (first published on 11 June 2019)

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. Estimates for the number of people in employment are available in Employment in the UK.

Between March 2018 and March 2019, the total number of jobs in the UK increased by 589,000 to reach an estimated 35.54 million. The sector showing the largest estimated increase in jobs was professional, scientific and technical activities (up 149,000 on the year).

These jobs estimates were first published on 11 June 2019. The jobs estimates will next be updated on 10 September 2019.

The number of jobs in manufacturing, mining and quarrying fell steadily between 1978 (when comparable records began) and 2008 but has been fairly stable for the last 10 years.

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4. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 13 August 2019
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 11 June 2019
Estimates of jobs by type of job (employee jobs, self-employment jobs, HM Forces and government-supported trainees).

Workforce jobs by industry
Dataset JOBS02 | Released 11 June 2019
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

More detailed sampling variability information for estimates of jobs is available from Dataset JOBS07.

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5. Glossary


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, those in HM Forces and government-supported trainees. The number of people in employment is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS); these estimates are available in our Employment in the UK release.


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 – a survey of businesses 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 more detailed Glossary is available.

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6. Measuring the data

Estimates of jobs are compiled from a number of sources, including Short Term Employer 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.

Estimates of vacancies are obtained from the Vacancy Survey, a survey of employers.

The Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) reports for jobs and vacancies pull together important qualitative information on the various dimensions of data quality, as well as providing a summary of methods used to compile the output.

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7. Strengths and limitations

The figures in this bulletin mainly come from surveys of businesses, which gather information from a sample rather than from the whole population. The samples are designed to be as accurate as possible given practical limitations such as time and cost constraints. Results from sample surveys are always estimates, not precise figures. This can have an impact on how changes in the estimates should be interpreted, especially for short-term comparisons.

As the number of people available in the sample gets smaller, the variability of the estimates that we can make from that sample size gets larger. Estimates for small groups (for example, vacancies in the construction industry), which are based on quite small subsets of the Vacancy Survey sample, are less reliable and tend to be more volatile than for larger aggregated groups (for example, total vacancies in the UK).

In general, short-term changes in the growth rates reported in this bulletin are not usually greater than the level that can be explained by sampling variability. Short-term movements in reported rates should be considered alongside longer-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in other sources to give a fuller picture.

Further information is available in A guide to labour market statistics.

Sampling variability information for jobs is available in Table 1 in this bulletin and in Dataset JOBS07.

The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is around plus or minus 1.5% of that level.

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8. You might also be interested in

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) will be carrying out a planned reassessment of Labour Market (LM) employment estimates which will work towards publishing a set of recommendations early 2020. As part of this assessment, the OSR may contact you to; gather feedback on your use of LM estimates; listen to your suggestions on ways we can build on our current engagement opportunities and; capture examples of where we have worked (or are working) together to improve communication and use of our statistics.

The three sections of the recommendations report will cover trustworthiness, quality and value. The OSR will coordinate engagement with you but please feel free to contact David Freeman ( or Matt Hughes ( if you wish to discuss further.

Labour market economic commentary
Article | Released 13 August 2019
Additional economic analysis of the latest UK labour market headline statistics and long-term trends.

UK Business Register and Employment Survey
Bulletin | Released 27 September 2018
Estimates of employee and employment estimates by detailed geography and industry.

Public sector employment
Bulletin | Released 11 June 2019
Estimates of people employed in the public and private sectors in the UK.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Mark Williams
Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 456728