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UK job vacancies hit record high

UK job vacancies hit record high

UK job vacancies have hit a record high, according to official figures published today by the Office for National Statistics.

Vacancies rose to a staggering 1.1m between July and September, the ONS reported, the highest level since records began in 2001.

Meanwhile, the number of payrolled employees rose by 207,000 to a record 29.2 million in September 2021.

In news that will cheer the Chancellor, this returned the number of people on payroll to pre-pandemic (February 2020) levels.

Whitehall will take further encouragement that its policies are working from the fact that the employment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points on the quarter, to 75.3%, while the unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points, to 4.5%.

The economic inactivity rate was also down 0.2% on the previous quarter, to 21.1%, while growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.2% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.0%.

Reflecting on the data, Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels. The latest earnings also continue to show growth on the year, even after taking inflation into account.”

All in all, expect lots of back-patting in Whitehall on the back of this latest jobs data. Rishi Sunak, more than most, had a spring in his step on Tuesday morning. The Chancellor said: “As we move to the next stage of our support, it’s encouraging to see our Plan For Jobs working – the number of expected redundancies remained very low in September, there are more employees on payrolls than ever before and the unemployment rate has fallen for eight months in a row.”

But if there’s one potential fly in the ointment, it’s that record number of job vacancies and why they’re not being filled. After all, if job vacancies aren’t being filled, the economy can’t fire.

Though the thumping number of people on payrolls should, in theory, provide a pick-me-up for markets, there are still unanswered structural questions surrounding the UK economy. For now, markets may well conclude that the state of the jobs market feels too good to be true.

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