British worker numbers bounce back as vacancies hit record high

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United Kingdom (UK) worker numbers have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels after the biggest jump in employment since 2014, new figures showed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 241,000 between July and August to move 1,000 above levels before the Coronavirus outbreak.

It also said that the rate of unemployment dropped again to 4.6 per cent – in line with analysts’ predictions.

Meanwhile, vacancy numbers soared by 249,000 to more than one million for the first time since records began amid labour shortages in some key UK industries.

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.’’

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