Vacancies and jobs in the UK: September 2021

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

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

14 September 2021

The effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on our capacity means we have reviewed the existing labour market releases and will be suspending some publications.

This will protect the delivery and quality of our remaining labour market outputs as well as ensuring we can respond to new demands as a direct result of the coronavirus. More details about the impact on labour market outputs can be found in our statement.

Email Tom Evans

Dyddiad y datganiad:
14 September 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
12 October 2021

2. Main points

  • The number of job vacancies in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, the first time vacancies has risen over 1 million since records began, and is now 249,000 above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 level.

  • June to August 2021 saw vacancies grow on the quarter by 269,300 (35.2%), with all industry sectors increasing their number of vacancies, with the majority reaching record levels; the largest increase was seen in Accommodation and food services, which rose by 57,600 (75.4%).

  • The number of vacancies reached record levels across all size bands in June to August 2021.

  • The total number of workforce jobs in the UK in June 2021 was an estimated 34.8 million, down by 856,000 from December 2019; both employee jobs and self-employment jobs showed upward movement to increase the overall workforce jobs figure by 293,000 on the quarter, the highest quarterly increase since March 2014.

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3. Vacancies for June to August 2021

In June to August 2021, the estimated number of vacancies was at its highest level since records began, with all industries growing on the quarter. In the same period there were 3.4 vacancies for every 100 employee jobs, also a record high.

The headline vacancy estimates are based on three-month averages, which naturally involve some time lag. Insight into trends in August 2021 are provided by two experimental sources, single-month vacancy estimates (see Strengths and limitations), in Dataset x06, and Adzuna Online job advert estimates.

Quarterly growth was seen across all industries. The fastest rate of growth was seen in other service activities, which grew by 93.3% (12,500), followed by transport and storage at 76.3% (20,300) and accommodation and food service activities at 75.4% (57,600). In the latter two categories labour demand has increased rapidly while staff availability fell because of a mix of employees leaving these sectors to find employment elsewhere and a reluctance of workers to return to their previous roles.

Reinforcing the growth in vacancies, alongside the current difficulty in filling positions in the accommodation and food service activities industry, it is the sector with the highest ratio of vacancies to 100 employee jobs at 5.9.

The signs of recovery are strong across all of the business size bands with each one displaying record highs in June to August 2021.

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4. Jobs for June 2021

Figure 4 shows estimates of workforce jobs for June 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 11 June 2021, whereas those of self-employment jobs are drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which covers a three-month period from start of May 2021 to end of July 2021.

As outlined in Section 7: Measuring the data, from 15 July 2021 an improved LFS weighting methodology, better accounting for population changes through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, was implemented, affecting periods from January to March 2020 onwards. This September 2021 publication of workforce jobs statistics is the first to take on these revised LFS estimates. More information on the reweighting of LFS estimates is available.

In June 2021, there were an estimated 34.8 million jobs in the UK, the highest level since June 2020. This represents an increase of 293,000 from March 2021 driven by increases of 214,000 employee jobs and 72,000 self-employment jobs.

The June 2021 estimate does signify a recovery, despite being 856,000 below that of a pre-pandemic December 2019. In December 2020, the workforce jobs figure was 1.3 million below that of a year earlier, but in the first six months of 2021 this has improved by 444,000.

The total number of jobs includes both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, with both rising from the start of the year. Employee jobs in June 2021 showed a fall of 398,000 from December 2019 but recovered in the first half of this year, rising by 329,000 from December 2020, with a similar pattern 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.

The coronavirus pandemic affected job numbers adversely across the majority of industries, with those sectors hardest hit showing large falls since December 2019. Accommodation and food service activities has seen the largest number of job losses with 178,000 (negative 7.0%) since December 2019. Other notable industries to have been affected are wholesale, retail and motor vehicles, which fell by 170,000, and manufacturing, which fell by 138,000. Of all the industry sectors, six increased job numbers over the same period. The sector with the largest increase was public administration, defence and compulsory social security, with 81,000 more jobs.

There are signs of recovery in the quarterly figures, with 14 industry sectors showing positive growth since March 2021, contributing to an increase of 293,000 to the total workforce jobs estimate.

Accommodation and food service activities, up 122,000 (5.5%), showed the greatest single sector increase.

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5. Vacancies and jobs data

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

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

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


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, better accounting for population changes through the COVID-19 pandemic was implemented, affecting periods from January to March 2020 onwards. This publication of workforce jobs statistics is the first to take on these revised LFS estimates. 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 where possible to inform data. We have used Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) section-level indications from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS), as well as 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 Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy 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 data in 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