A new release calendar has been launched on GOV.UK. The Publication Hub website will soon be decommissioned.

Skip to content

Statistics on job vacancies provide important information about the demand for labour. As the advertisement of a vacancy is one of the first tangible signs of an employer intending to recruit staff, these statistics can give an early indication of what is happening in the labour market.

Publications

Impact of the Recession on the Labour Market
Department: Office for National Statistics
Article on the impact of the recession on the labour market
Labour Market Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, claimant count, average earnings, labour productivity, vacancies and labour disputes statistics.
Northern Ireland Labour Market Report
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment, earnings).
Northern Ireland Labour Market Report
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment, earnings).

Back to the top

Overview

There are two sources of vacancy statistics:

The ONS Vacancy Survey provides comprehensive estimates of the number of job vacancies across the UK economy. This monthly survey asks employers how many job vacancies they have in total for which they are actively seeking recruits from outside their organisation, for example, by advertising or interviewing.

The survey began in April 2001 and the results became National Statistics in June 2003. The results are published in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin and the Economic and Labour Market Review (ELMR) journal.

The headline series are seasonally adjusted three-month rolling averages. Analysis is available by industry and by size of enterprise.

Statistics of Jobcentre vacancies, that is job openings notified by employers to Jobcentre Plus, are also collected from the Jobcentre Plus administrative system. These provide a more detailed analysis of vacancies by local area, occupation and duration of vacancies, as well as by industry. However, they are not comprehensive since many vacancies are filled without reference to Jobcentre Plus.

The Jobcentre figures can be expressed in terms of the inflow of newly-notified vacancies over a period of time or the number of unfilled vacancies on a specified date each month. A limited range of statistics on Jobcentre Plus vacancies, relating to the inflows of newly-notified vacancies, is available on Nomis?.

Back to the top

Technical Data

The ONS Vacancy Survey provides comprehensive estimates of the number of job vacancies across the UK economy. This monthly survey asks employers how many job vacancies they have in total for which they are actively seeking recruits from outside their organisation, for example, by advertising or interviewing.

The Vacancy Survey began in April 2001 and the results became National Statistics in June 2003. Further information is available on the National Statistics website. The results are published in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin and the Economic and Labour Market Review (ELMR) journal.

The headline series are seasonally adjusted three-month rolling averages. Analysis is available by industry and by size of enterprise.

Approximately 6,000 enterprises in Great Britain are surveyed on a specific date each month. Employers are asked to return just one number by telephone data entry using their keypad. In common with the majority of Office for National Statistics¡¯ (ONS) business surveys, the sample is obtained from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), stratified by industry and number of people employed.

One quarter of the sample consists of large businesses or organisations that are included every month. The remaining 4,500 are smaller and are sampled randomly on a quarterly basis. Smaller businesses remain in the survey for five or nine quarters (depending on the size of the business).

The survey covers all industrial sectors except agriculture, forestry and fishing. This is because of the disproportionate additional costs involved and the difficulties of measuring vacancies in these industry sectors, which mainly consist of very small firms (mostly with no vacancies).

It is common practice to exclude these sectors from vacancy surveys in other countries. The UK approach is consistent with EU requirements. Completion of the survey is compulsory under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947.

The survey covers businesses in Great Britain only, although estimates for the UK are derived by grossing up the data for Great Britain, along with information about employment in Northern Ireland businesses. Businesses in Northern Ireland are not surveyed because of the risk of overlap with responses to other surveys conducted by Northern Ireland departments.

As the data from the survey show strong and stable seasonal patterns, they are published on a seasonally adjusted basis. Further information is available on the National Statistics website. Results are published 40 days after the survey data are collected. All results are comparable over time, dating back to the first published month. The unadjusted data series are also available.

The Vacancy Survey provides a consistent estimate of the total number of vacancies in the UK economy and is a leading indicator of the labour market. This information cannot be obtained from an alternative source, such as statistics of vacancies notified to Jobcentres, which provides only part of the picture and may not indicate developments in labour demand. This is because of changes to Jobcentre Plus procedures for taking and handling vacancies.

The Jobcentre vacancies can however, be analysed in more detail than the survey results, for example, by local area and by occupation.

Further information on the Vacancy Survey can be found on the National Statistics website.

Back to the top

Glossary

  • Enterprise

    The enterprise is the smallest combination of legal units that is an organisational unit producing goods or services, which benefits from a certain degree of autonomy in decision-making, especially for the allocation of its current resources. An enterprise carries out one or more activities at one or more locations. An enterprise may be a sole legal unit.

  • Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR)

    The UK register for business surveys. The register is used to select businesses to be included in the surveys, mail forms, enable estimates to be made for businesses that do not respond, or who were not asked to participate in any particular survey, and to produce analyses.

  • NOMIS?

    Official labour market statistics website, run by the University of Durham on behalf of the Office for National Statistics.

  • Sampling variability

    Data based on statistical samples are subject to sampling variability. If many samples were drawn, each would give a different result. The ranges shown for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) data in the monthly Labour Market Statistical Bulletin, for example, represent 95 per cent confidence intervals; in 95 per cent of samples the range would contain the true value.

Back to the top

Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Labour Market Statistics Team

Email: labour.market@ons.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 16 3345 6901

Labour Market Statistics Team Office for National Statistics Government Buildings Cardiff Road NP10 8XG

Back to the top