Official figures show that job vacancies have hit a record high as the country’s economic recovery continues.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were an estimated 1,034,000 vacancies between June and August this year, making the three months to August the first time that vacancies have risen above one million since records began in 2001.

This reflects a rise of over a third (35 per cent) in the space of three months across the British economy.

August payrolls also showed another monthly increase, rising by 241,000 to reach 29.1 million.

This lifted employment in all regions of the UK to pre-Covid levels except in London, Scotland and the south-east of England.

ONS figures also show that the employment rate among young people increased, alongside a decrease in the unemployment and inactivity rate.

Over the last year, young people in particular saw significant increase in unemployment due to the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on industries such as retail, hospitality, and leisure.

However, these industries have now seen significant growth according to the latest figures, with the accommodation and food services industry seeing a 75.4 per cent increase in the number of job openings.

The figures also report a continued increase in wage growth, with total earnings, including bonuses, rising by 8.3 per cent for the three months to July against the same period last year.

This perhaps reflects the labour shortage gripping the UK, fuelled by the ‘Great Resignation’ and a shortage of EU workers.

Business leaders have called for looser post-Brexit migration rules to enable firms to hire more staff from the EU, as the number of EU nationals working in Britain has dropped during the pandemic as workers returned to their home countries, with ongoing concerns about Covid regulations and post-Brexit migration rules.

Despite HMRC data showing that the number of payrolled employees increased in August, the ONS figures show that employment in the UK still remains below pre-Covid levels, with unemployment estimated at 4.6 per cent, 0.6 percentage points higher than before the pandemic struck.

Commenting on the ONS findings, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Neil Carberry said:

The recovery in the number of pay-rolled employees to pre-pandemic levels underlines the huge amount of hiring that is going on right now.

With the ONS vacancy count now over 1 million for the first time ever, and most individual sectors having record numbers of unfilled jobs, there is a real risk of shortages impacting the recovery through the autumn.

Government must work with business to improve training opportunities for workers to transition into the most crucial sectors, and allow some flexibility in the immigration system at this time of need.

And while businesses are raising salaries in many sectors, they must think more broadly about how they will attract and retain staff through improved conditions, facilities and staff engagement, working with recruiters, who are the professional experts in all of this.






Megan McElroy is a second year English Literature student at the University of Warwick. As Editorial Intern for HRreview, her interests include employment law and public policy. In relation to her degree, her favourite areas of study include Small Press Publishing and political poetry.