Vacancies and jobs in the UK: May 2023

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:
16 May 2023

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
13 June 2023

2. Main points

  • The number of vacancies in February to April 2023 was 1,083,000, a decrease of 55,000 from November 2022 to January 2023.

  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the 10th consecutive period in February to April 2023, down by 4.9% since November 2022 to January 2023, with vacancies falling in 14 of the 18 industry sectors.

  • In February to April 2023, total vacancies were down by 214,000 from the level of a year ago, although they remained 282,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.

  • In January to March 2023, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was 1.2, up from 1.1 the previous quarter (October to December 2022) as the number of vacancies fell while unemployment rose.

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3. Vacancies for February to April 2023

In February to April 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 55,000 on the quarter to 1,083,000, the 10th consecutive period to see a quarterly fall since May to July 2022.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into trends in April 2023 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (See Section 8: Strengths and limitations of our March 2021 bulletin), in our X06: Single month vacancies estimates dataset and Adzuna Online job advert estimates datasets.

In February to April 2023, the number of vacancies fell by 4.9% from the previous quarter, with decreases in 14 of the 18 industry sectors. The industries showing the largest falls were financial and insurance activities and mining and quarrying, at negative 15.7% and negative 11.1%, respectively.

February to April 2023 saw the number of vacancies fall on the quarter for the 10th consecutive period, decreasing by 55,000. The industry sectors displaying the largest falls in vacancy numbers were accommodation and food service activities and wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, down on the quarter by 13,000 and 12,000, respectively. The industries which saw the largest growth on the quarter were administrative and support service activities and other service activities, growing by 6,000 and 3,000, respectively.

The fall in the number of vacancies reflects uncertainty across industries, as survey respondents continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back on recruitment.

When comparing February to April 2023 with the same time last year, total vacancies decreased by 214,000 (16.5%). The largest falls were in accommodation and food service activities and information and communication, both of which were down by 37,000 and 30,000, respectively. However, the total number of vacancies remain 282,000 above January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 60,000.

In January to March 2023, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was at 1.2, up slightly from 1.1 in the previous quarter. While this ratio remains very low by historical standards, this quarterly increase suggests a slight easing of recent tightness in the labour market. This is following consecutive falls in vacancy numbers and increases in the number of unemployed people.

For the third consecutive period the only quarterly growth in the number of vacancies was in the 10 to 49 size band.

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4. Jobs, vacancies and wider labour market measures

Our estimated number of workforce jobs for December 2022 (next updated June 2023) was a record high of 36.4 million, an increase of 211,000 jobs since September 2022 and an increase of 744,000 since December 2019.

The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, with both components increasing in the quarter to December 2022. Employee jobs in December 2022 were at a record high of nearly 32 million, 1.25 million above their December 2019 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level. However, this rate of growth has not been seen in the self-employment jobs, which remain 536,000 below December 2019 levels. The growth in the employee jobs component of workforce jobs up to December 2022 can also be seen in the number of payrolled employees reported in the 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 9 of the 20 the sectors still below their pre-pandemic levels in December 2022. The sectors showing large number of job losses (wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, and construction) have been offset by large gains in the sectors human health and social work; professional, scientific and technical activities; and transport and storage.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 16 May 2023
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 14 March 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 14 March 2023
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

X06:Single month vacancies estimates (not designated as National Statistics)
Dataset X06 | Released 16 May 2023
Single Month Vacancy Survey estimates, not seasonally adjusted.

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6. 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.

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7. 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, 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). On 15 July 2021, an improved LFS weighting methodology with better accounting for population changes through the pandemic was implemented. This affects periods from January to March 2020 onwards. For more information on the changes to the LFS weighting methodology through the pandemic, please see our article, 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. Our Adzuna Online job advert estimates datasets are also published as part of our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletins.


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 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 Section 7: Measuring the data in our April 2021 release.

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

Sampling variability

The sampling variability of the three-month average vacancies level is around 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.

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8. 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.

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10. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 16 May 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: May 2023

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Tom Evans
Ffôn: +44 1633 651833