Vacancies and jobs in the UK: May 2024

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

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

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Dyddiad y datganiad:
14 May 2024

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
11 June 2024

2. Main points

  • The estimated number of vacancies in February to April 2024 was 898,000, a decrease of 26,000 or 2.8% from November 2023 to January 2024.

  • Vacancy numbers decreased on the quarter for the 22nd consecutive period in February to April 2024, with vacancies decreasing in 13 of the 18 industry sectors.

  • In February to April 2024, total estimated vacancies were down by 188,000 (17.3%) from the level seen in the previous year, although they remained 102,000 (12.8%) above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels.

  • In January to March 2024, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was 1.6, up from 1.4 the previous quarter (October to December 2023) because of rising unemployment.

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3. Vacancies for February to April 2024

The series of quarterly decreases in vacancy numbers continued in February to April 2024, falling for the 22nd consecutive period. The total number of vacancies has declined by an estimated 401,000 since April to June 2022.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insights into the April 2024 trends are provided by two alternative data sources: our Dataset X06: Single-month vacancies estimates (see, Section 8: Strengths and limitations), and the Adzuna estimates shown in our Online job advert estimates dataset (official statistics in development). Both alternative data sources show declines in April 2024, but caution is advised when viewing these results because the data are not seasonally adjusted or directly comparable.

The estimated total number of vacancies decreased by 2.8% from the previous quarter, with water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities contracting the most, decreasing by 16.4%.

In February to April 2024, the estimated number of vacancies fell on the quarter by 26,000 to 898,000. The largest fall was in manufacturing, which was down by 7,000 vacancies.

When comparing February to April 2024 with the same period the previous year, total vacancies decreased by 188,000 (17.3%), with reductions in 16 of the 18 industry sectors. The industry that decreased the most was human health and social work, where the estimated number of vacancies decreased by 33,000. Only real estate activities showed an increase on the previous year, up by an estimated 4,000 vacancies.

The total estimated number of vacancies remains 102,000 above its January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level. The two industry sectors that have increased the most from their January to March 2020 levels are human health and social work activities and accommodation and food service activities, which were up by an estimated 25,000 and 21,000, respectively. Four industry sectors declined below pre-pandemic levels, with a combined decrease of 27,000 vacancies. Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles had the largest decrease, down by an estimated 14,000 vacancies.

In January to March 2024, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was 1.6, up from 1.4 in October to December 2023. Although this ratio remains low by historical standards, it does demonstrate a slight easing in the labour market, with vacancies falling alongside rising unemployment.

Only vacancies among employers in the 10 to 49 size-band increased on the quarter (up by 1.2%), while all the other size-bands declined. The sharpest decrease was in the 1 to 9 size-band (down by 7.2%).

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4. Jobs, vacancies, and wider labour market measures

Workforce jobs (WFJ) estimates are provided from various sources. Those of employee jobs in the private sector are drawn from surveys relating to a reference date of 15 December 2023, 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 2023 to January 2024. This is outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data.

In the March 2024 publication, WFJ incorporated the reweighted LFS data from September 2022 onwards. The reweighting exercise creates a discontinuity in total WFJ and self-employment jobs between June 2022 and September 2022, where there will be a step change. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development. Total WFJ and self-employment job comparisons are to be avoided before September 2022.

An issue was detected in the weighting of the LFS for Northern Ireland in our March 2024 publication, for the November 2023 to January 2024 quarter only. While only Northern Ireland data were affected, we were not able to publish regional WFJ figures as part of the March 2024 release. We intend to publish full regional WFJ data as part of the next scheduled WFJ release in June 2024.

Our estimated number of Workforce jobs for December 2023 (next updated June 2024) was 36.9 million, an increase of 125,000 jobs since September 2023. The largest individual increase came from transport and storage, which was up 63,000 on the quarter. The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, with the latest quarterly rise in employee jobs taking that component to 32.6 million.

Comparing with the equivalent period last year, WFJ were up by 586,000 with employee jobs up by 615,000 and self-employment jobs up by 7,000. Government-supported trainees and HM armed forces were showing a combined decline of 35,000. The growth in the employee jobs component of WFJ, in the twelve months up to December 2023, is also reflected in the number of employees on payroll reported in the Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted dataset, which has also been on an upward trend over the same period.

Annually, growth in the workforce jobs estimates has varied with 5 of the 20 industry sectors below December 2022 levels. The hardest hit sector, administrative and support service activities, saw the largest fall in job numbers, at 32,000. However, most industries showed increases, with the largest from human health and social work, which increased by 213,000 to 4.9 million jobs.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

Vacancies by industry
Dataset VACS02 | Released 14 May 2024
Estimates of vacancies by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Workforce jobs summary
Dataset JOBS01 | Released 12 March 2024
Estimates of jobs by type of job (including employee jobs, self-employment jobs, HM armed forces and government-supported trainees).

Workforce jobs by industry
Dataset JOBS02 | Released 12 March 2024
Estimates of jobs by industry (Standard Industrial Classification 2007).

Dataset X06: Single-month vacancies estimates
Dataset X06 | Released 14 May 2024
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 armed 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 bulletins.

A more detailed glossary is available.

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7. Measuring the data

From our March 2024 publication, we used the reweighted Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates in our workforce jobs estimates. The LFS estimates feeding into workforce jobs via employee jobs, self-employment jobs and government-supported trainees have been reweighted for periods from September 2022. LFS headline seasonally adjusted series before this have also been revised based on the recent reweighted estimates. However, it has not been possible to incorporate these revisions into workforce jobs so there is a discontinuity before September 2022. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development. For more information see our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators article.

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 the 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

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read more about how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

For a comparison of our labour market data sources and the main differences, read our Comparison of labour market data sources 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, which is a survey of employers. Adzuna Online job advert estimates are also published as part of our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletin.


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).

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 the coronavirus social distancing measures.

For more information on how jobs data are measured, please see Section 7: Measuring the data in our 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 our Vacancy Survey QMI and 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.

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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 14 May 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Vacancies and jobs in the UK: May 2024

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Labour Market team
Ffôn: +44 1633 455400