Vacancies and jobs in the UK: March 2022

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:
15 March 2022

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
12 April 2022

2. Main points

  • Job vacancies rose to a new record of 1,318,000 in the period from December 2021 to February 2022; an increase of 105,000 from the previous quarter with half of the industry sectors showing record highs.

  • The quarterly rate of growth fell to 8.7% in December 2021 to February 2022; the seventh consecutive fall since May to July 2021.

  • The ratio of vacancies for every 100 employee jobs reached a new record high of 4.4 in the period from December 2021 to February 2022; the 12th consecutive period of growth.

  • The ratio of unemployed people to every vacancy fell to a new record low of 1.0 in November 2021 to January 2022.

  • The total number of workforce jobs in the UK in December 2021 was an estimated 35.2 million, and while that remains 482,000 below December 2019, the number of workforce jobs has risen every quarter in 2021, helping to reduce the jobs deficit from pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.

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3. Vacancies for December 2021 to February 2022

In December 2021 to February 2022, vacancies grew more slowly at 8.7%, down from 17.2% in the last quarter, despite this, 13 of the 18 industry groups showed increased vacancy numbers on the quarter. The growth in vacancies over recent periods has seen the ratio of vacancies to every 100 employee jobs increase to a new record high of 4.4.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insight into trends in February 2022 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Strengths and limitations), in Dataset x06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates. Both sources showed increased vacancy numbers in February 2022.

The rate of quarterly growth varies across industries with the fastest rates of growth seen in education at 21.2% and construction at 17.3%, while electricity ,gas, steam and air conditioning supply showed the largest negative growth of 13.8%.

While the overall rate of vacancy growth continues to slow, the number of vacancies continues to increase across most industries. The largest increase in vacancy numbers on the quarter, was in wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (16,800). There were also large increases in human health and social work (15,400), and professional, scientific and technical activities (14,500). It is notable that while 9 of the 18 industry groups posted record numbers of vacancies, only education and public administration, defence and compulsory social security showed improved rates of growth on the quarter.

December 2021 to February 2022 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 92,700 (110.1%).

The ratio of unemployed people to every vacancy fell to a new record low of 1.0 in November 2021 to January 2022.

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4. Jobs for December 2021

Figure 4 shows estimates of workforce jobs for December 2021.

The estimates are provided from various sources. Those of employee jobs in the private sector are drawn from surveys relating to a reference date of 10 December 2021, whereas those of self-employment jobs are drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from the start of November 2021 to the end of January 2022. 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. For more information on the changes to LFS weighting methodology through the coronavirus pandemic, please see our article on the LFS Survey weighting methodology.

In December 2021, there were an estimated 35.2 million jobs in the UK, the highest level since June 2020. This represents a small increase of nearly 38,000 from September 2021. This was driven by an increase in employee jobs of 142,000 and offset by a fall in self-employment jobs of 99,000 and small falls in government-supported trainees and HM Forces.

The December 2021 estimates show a fall of 482,000 from a pre-coronavirus pandemic December 2019, but still represents a recovery with increases in each quarter since December 2020, when the figure was nearly 1.2 million below that of a year earlier. However, the rate of this recovery has slowed.

The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, and growth over the two components varies. In December 2021, employee jobs continued to grow from their December 2019 level with an increase of 204,000 while self-employment jobs fell by 687,000 over the same period. The employee jobs show 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 adverse effect of coronavirus on job numbers can still be seen across the majority of industries with the hardest hit sectors still below their December 2019 pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicle and motorcycles has seen the largest number of job losses at nearly 234,000 with other notable falls in manufacturing (130,000) and other service activities (111,000). There are signs of recovery with the deficit of jobs becoming smaller over the same period with eight industries above their December 2019 level. The largest increase was seen in human health and social work, up by nearly 139,000.

On the quarter, 10 industry sectors showed positive growth from September 2021, contributing to an increase of nearly 38,000 to the total workforce jobs estimate. Administration and support activities rose by the most (35,500) and reached a record high in December 2021.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 15 March 2022
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 15 March 2022
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 15 March 2022
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06:Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 15 March 2022
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

Upcoming Changes

The next vacancies and jobs bulletin (12 April 2022) will include revisions to estimates of vacancies back to the start of the series in 2001. Revisions will result from a review of the seasonal adjustment parameters and from taking on updated sources of additional information. This is an annual process, as outlined in the Vacancy Survey Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

We plan to reweight the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS) datasets that include data from March 2020 using RTI data published today. Last month, we said that we would provide further details on our plans including a timeline in our March labour market publication. Since then, new data have become available that we need to analyse and consider before firming up our timeline, which we will do as soon as possible.  

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, we will initially publish the tables in both the new and current formats. If you have any questions or comments, please email


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 15July 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. 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 to inform data where possible. We have used Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) section-level indications from the Business insights and impact on the UK economy survey (BICS). We have also used 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 Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators 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 on the strengths and limitations of this bulletin is available in our previous release.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Tom Evans
Ffôn: +44 1633 651833