Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
16 November 2021

How UK job vacancies have reached a record high

The number of job vacancies has reached 1.2 million due to post-Brexit labour shortages and the post-Covid reopening.

By Michael Goodier

The UK jobs market is booming, recording the highest ever number of vacancies due to a combination of post-Brexit labour shortages and the reopening of the economy following the end of Covid-19 restrictions.

The number of job vacancies rose to a record 1,172,000 in August to October 2021, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. But the latest numbers also show unemployment falling back to pre-Covid levels. There were only 1.3 unemployed people per vacancy in July-September: another record low, meaning the jobs market is at its tightest in decades.


The construction industry saw the largest growth rate in vacancies compared with the last quarter (41.1 per cent) followed by transport and storage (40.4 per cent).

However, it is the UK’s social care industry that has the highest vacancy figures, with more than 183,000 vacancies – up from 175,000 in the previous quarter. There were 151,000 vacancies in hospitality, with two in five accommodation and food businesses reporting staff shortages. Separate figures show that 41 per cent of businesses with more than ten employees reported jobs were more difficult to fill compared to normal for this time of year – especially in hospitality, transport and storage, and manufacturing. 

The major reasons cited were a lack of qualified applicants, inability to afford an attractive pay package, and a reduced number of EU applicants.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them
Topics in this article: