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.
The ONS Vacancy Survey provides comprehensive estimates of the stock of job vacancies across the UK economy. It is a monthly survey of enterprises which asks employers how many job vacancies they have in total for which they are actively seeking recruits from outside their organisation (e.g. by advertising or interviewing).
The survey has been running since April 2001 and the results were adopted as National Statistics in June 2003. Each month’s headline estimates are based on three-month rolling averages, but monthly estimates of total vacancies are also published. Analysis of the quarterly series is available by industry and by size of enterprise (in terms of employment).
The survey data are already showing strong and stable seasonal patterns. The data, including the component quarterly series by broad industrial groupings and by size of enterprise, are therefore now being published on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Statistics of Jobcentre vacancies, i.e. job openings notified by employers to Jobcentre Plus, are also collected from the Jobcentre Plus administrative system. These provide analysis of vacancies in more detail than is possible using the new survey, e.g. data by local area, occupation and duration of vacancies, as well as by industry. However, they are not comprehensive. Only a proportion of all vacancies are notified.
The Jobcentre figures can be expressed in terms of the inflow of newly-notified vacancies over a period or the number (or stock) of unfilled vacancies on a specified date each month. A variety of data is available on Nomis®. Seasonally adjusted national and regional data go back as far as 1980.
Publication of most of the Jobcentre data since April 2001 has, however, been deferred due to distortions to the data which occurred as a result of the 'Employer Direct' initiative by Jobcentre Plus which altered the method of dealing with notified vacancies. In addition, the numbers of notified vacancies appear to have been substantially affected by a drive (from April 2003) by Jobcentre Plus to market their services and increase notifications from many employers in chosen sectors. Recent changes in these figures would therefore not necessarily signify developments in the labour market.
A limited range of statistics on Jobcentre Plus vacancies, relating to the inflows of newly-notified vacancies, is now being made available on Nomis®, though not at this stage as National Statistics. ONS and the Department for Work and Pensions are continuing to monitor and review the data with a view to publishing more statistics when it is appropriate to do so
This page last revised: Monday, 10 July 2006