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UK job vacancies hit record high

UK job vacancies hit a 20-year high between July and September, while the unemployment rate fell in the three months to August as the jobs market continues to recover.
According to figures released on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics, job vacancies rose by 318,000 from pre-pandemic January to March 2020 levels to 1.1 million, with accommodation and food services seeing a near-50,000 jump.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in the three months to August from 4.6% in the three months to July. The figures also showed that the number of payroll employees rose in September by 207,000 to a record 29.2m, and is now higher than it was before the pandemic.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

“The latest earnings continue to show growth on the year, even after taking inflation into account.

“However, the figures are still being affected by special factors that make it hard to read underlying trends.”

Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “The further rise in vacant positions to a new record high of 1.102m suggests that demand for workers remains strong. But crucially evidence from other surveys suggests that vacancies are high partly because employers are finding it increasingly hard to find workers.

“So there’s no real signs in this release that the labour shortages have started to ease. The end of the furlough scheme will probably help, but we’re increasingly of the view that labour shortages will last at least until the middle of next year.

“Meanwhile, the distortions from the furlough scheme and the change in the composition of employment that have boosted average earnings growth have now started to ease.”

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