Job vacancies hit 20-year high as market rebounds after Covid

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Job vacancies in the UK have reached their highest level since records began 20 years ago.

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Some 1.102 million roles were open between July and September, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday, an increase of 318,000 from the pre-coronavirus period of January to March 2020.

It also marked the second month in which the three-month average was above 1 million, as the jobs market continued its recovery. The ONS said the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent between June and August, from 4.6 percent in the July quarter.


In another sign of the buoyant recruitment market, the ONS said the biggest increase in vacancies was seen in the administration and support sector – namely temporary employment agencies – with an increase of 165,000.

The number of workers hired has also increased, the figures show, adding 207,000 to the company’s payroll between August and September, bringing the total to a record 29.2 million.

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Darren Morgan, director of economic data at ONS, said: “As the jobs market continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus, the number of employees on the payroll in September now exceeds pre-pandemic levels.”

However, some sectors are grappling with recruitment crisis. About a third of hospitality businesses told ONS that they are finding it more difficult than usual to fill vacancies.

Yale Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, warned that staff shortages could slow Britain’s economic recovery. She said: “The recovery is testing the economy’s ability to adjust to a new post-pandemic environment, a task made more difficult by the low availability of foreign workers.

“Acute skills shortage has pushed vacancies to record levels for the second month in a row in September, as employers struggle to find skilled workers.”

CBI’s Mathew Percival said many firms had struggled to keep enough employees in the autumn, which is reflected in the ONS data.

While Chancellor Rishi Sunak called the figures “encouraging”, Tony Wilson of the Institute for Employment Studies warned that there could be about a million fewer people in the labor market than before the pandemic.

Mr. Wilson told financial Times: “These shortfalls are holding back our economic recovery and will not heal itself by simply encouraging firms to pay more.”

Additional reporting by PA Media


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