The number of job vacancies in the UK has hit its highest level since the start of the pandemic, a major study has revealed.
The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), suggest that the economy is beginning to show the “early signs of recovery”.
According to the data, which covers the period from January to March 2021, unemployment rates fell and employment rates rose for the first time since February 2020.
Encouragingly, the report shows that the number of workers on payrolls had risen by some 97,000 – but was still 772,000 lower than before the pandemic.
Likewise, the number of job vacancies jumped by eight per cent compared to the previous quarter to 657,000 – but is still well below pre-pandemic levels. The study shows that most industries reported an increase in recruitment activity, particularly the accommodation and food service sectors where coronavirus restrictions are beginning to lift. But the arts and the entertainment and recreation industries continue to suffer from the pandemic, with the number of job vacancies in these sectors remaining the same or decreasing.
The figures also show that the smallest companies – defined as those with one to nine employees – had 8.9 per cent fewer vacancies in February 2021 to April 2021 compared with the previous quarter and were the only size band to report a decrease – suggesting that the smallest of firms may need additional support to boost recovery.
Commenting on the figures, the ONS said: “Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment, since the start of the pandemic employment has generally been decreasing and unemployment increasing.
“However, the latest (January to March 2021) estimates show signs of recovery, with a quarterly increase in the employment rate. Meanwhile, there was a quarterly decrease in the unemployment rate and the economic inactivity rate increased on the quarter.”
To access the ONS employment data, click here.
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