Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that vacancies grew by 269,300 (35.2%) between June and August, with all industry sectors increasing their number of vacancies. The largest increase was seen in accommodation and food services, which rose by 57,600 (75.4%).
The ONS notes that 'labour demand has increased rapidly while staff availability has fallen because of a mix of employees leaving these sectors to find employment elsewhere and a reluctance of workers to return to their previous roles'.
Reinforcing the growth in vacancies, alongside the current difficulty in filling positions in the accommodation and food service industry, it is the sector with the highest ratio of vacancies to 100 employee jobs at 5.9.
In total the number of job vacancies recorded in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, the first time vacancies have risen above one million in recorded history.
Meanwhile the overall unemployment rate - covering a slightly earlier period, from May-July, fell back again to 4.6% from 4.7% a month earlier - having topped 5% earlier in the pandemic.
Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Early estimates from payroll data suggest that in August the total number of employees is around the same level as before the pandemic, though our surveys show well over a million are still on furlough.
“However, this recovery isn’t even: in hard-hit areas such as London and sectors such as hospitality and arts and leisure the numbers of workers remain well down on pre-pandemic levels.
“The overall employment rate continues to recover, particularly among groups such as young workers who were hard hit at the outset of the pandemic, while unemployment has fallen.
“Vacancies reached a new record high.
“Not surprisingly, this is driven above all by hospitality, the sector with the highest proportion of employers reporting their job openings are hard to fill.”