Vacancies and jobs in the UK: December 2021

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

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

Email Tom Evans

Dyddiad y datganiad:
14 December 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
18 January 2022

2. Main points

  • The number of job vacancies in September to November 2021 continued to rise to a new record high of 1,219,000; this was an increase of 434,500 from its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level (January to March 2020), with 13 of the 18 industry sectors showing record highs.

  • On the quarter, the rate of growth continued to slow down, and in September to November 2021, vacancies rose by 184,700 (17.9%) (down from a 270,300 (35.4%) increase last quarter); the largest quarterly increase was seen in Human health and social work at 26,000 (15.2%).

  • The rate of quarterly growth varied across industries in September to November 2021, with all but one industry displaying positive growth; water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation services had the highest growth at 41.7%, while electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply fell by 1.7% over the same period.

  • The total number of workforce jobs in the UK in September 2021 was estimated to be 35.1 million, despite being down by 525,000 from December 2019; this shows an improving jobs market, following three consecutive quarters of growth helping to reduce the jobs deficit from pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

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3. Vacancies for September to November 2021

In September to November 2021, vacancies grew more slowly at a rate of 17.9%; this was down from a 35.4% growth last quarter. Despite this, all but one industry showed increased vacancy numbers on the quarter. The growth in vacancies over recent periods saw the number of unemployed people to each vacancy fall to a record low of 1.2 in August to October 2021.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insight into trends in November 2021 are provided by two experimental sources: single month vacancy estimates (dataset X06) (see Strengths and limitations) and Adzuna Online job advert estimates. The single-month vacancy estimates show their first reduction in vacancy numbers since February 2021.

With the exception of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, quarterly growth was seen in all industries. The fastest rates of growth were seen in water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation services (41.7%), and manufacturing (26.0%).

While the rate of vacancy growth has slowed recently, the number of vacancies continues to increase across most industries. The largest quarterly increase in vacancy numbers was in human health and social work activities, which increased by 26,000 (15.2%). Other large increases were seen in accommodation and food service activities (24,300), wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (21,200) and manufacturing (19,200). It is notable that while 10 of the 18 industry groups posted record numbers of vacancies, only three showed increased rates of growth.

September to November 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 80,500 (95.6%). The easing of most COVID-19 restrictions 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 over 356,000 (41%).

In September to November 2021, the ratio of vacancies to every 100 employee jobs increased to a new record high of 4.0. Accommodation and food service activities were individually the highest, with a ratio of 7.3 vacancies for every 100 employee jobs.

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4. Jobs for September 2021

Figure 4 shows estimates of workforce jobs for September 2021.

The estimates are provided from various sources. Estimates of employee jobs in the private sector are drawn from surveys relating to a reference date of 10 September 2021. Estimates of self-employment jobs are drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from August 2021 to October 2021.

As outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data, this release incorporates revisions to the workforce jobs dataset (after benchmarking to the latest estimates in the provisional annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) 2020 figures, and revised BRES 2019 figures). Additionally, revisions to Public Sector Employment (PSE) and the Short-Term Employment Survey (STES) also take effect this month.

In September 2021, there were an estimated 35.1 million jobs in the UK, which was the highest level since June 2020. This represents an increase of 147,000 from June 2021; this was driven by an increase in employee jobs of 269,000, and offset by a fall in self-employment jobs of 125,000, with government supported trainees making up the difference.

The September 2021 estimate shows a fall of 525,000 from before the coronavirus pandemic (December 2019), but also a strong recovery, with quarterly increases in each quarter since December 2020 (when the figure was nearly 1.2 million below that of a year earlier).

The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs; however, growth over the two components varies. Employee jobs in September 2021 exceeded its December 2019 level for the first time by 57,000, while self-employment fell by 588,000, with other smaller contributions made by government-supported trainee and HM Forces jobs. The employee jobs reflect a similar pattern to the number of employees on payroll reported in the Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset.

The coronavirus pandemic had an adverse effect on job numbers, which can still be seen across the majority of industries; the hardest-hit sectors are still below their December 2019 pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicle and motorcycles saw the largest number of job losses at 169,000, with other notable falls in manufacturing (149,000) and other service activities (116,000). There are signs of recovery, with the deficit of jobs becoming smaller over the same period and eight industries now being above their December 2019 level. The largest increase was seen in human health and social work, which was up by nearly 148,000.

On the quarter, 11 industry sectors displayed growth from June 2021. This contributed to an increase of 147,000 in the total workforce jobs estimate; accommodation and food service activities were up by nearly 72,000, showing the greatest single sector increase.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 14 December 2021
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

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

X06: Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 14 December 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, 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

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, which better accounted for population changes through the coronavirus pandemic, was implemented (affecting periods from January to March 2020 onwards). For more information on the changes to LFS weighting methodology through the coronavirus pandemic, please see our article on the LFS Survey weighting methodology.


Revisions to the workforce jobs dataset have been implemented this month (after benchmarking to the latest estimates in annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) 2020 figures, revisions to Public Sector Employment (PSE) and the Short-Term Employment Survey (STES)). There were additional revisions to the government-supported trainees (GST) from the devolved administrations, and changes following the seasonal adjustment review. Find out more information on these revisions.

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 STES.

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 impact on the UK economy survey, as well as survey contributor-level comments provided to us over the telephone or electronically. We have used these as a guide on whether businesses are operational and likely, or not, to be actively recruiting and confirming 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 rather than precise figures.


Estimates of vacancies are obtained from the Vacancy Survey, a survey of employers. Adzuna Online job advertestimates 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 STES, the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES) and the 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 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 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; this gives 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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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Tom Evans
Ffôn: +44 1633 651833