News Article

Job vacancies outpace unemployment for first time

Posted 19th May 2022 • Written by BBC •

There are more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK for the first time since records began.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.7% between January and March, its lowest for almost 50 years, as job openings rose to a new high of 1.3 million.

However, wages, excluding bonuses, failed to keep pace with rising prices, a problem expected to intensify because of growing food and fuel costs.

The figures show "a mixed picture" said the Office for National Statistics.

Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation think tank at Lancaster University, said: "Despite employment continuing to rise, today's figures underline the challenges facing workers who are seeing inflation eat away at their living standards."

The data showed that there was a rise in the number of people moving from economic inactivity - classed as those aged 16-64 who haven't been working or seeking a job - into employment.

At the same time, people moving from job-to-job also reached a record high "driven by resignations rather than dismissals", said the ONS.

"Total employment, while up on the quarter, remains below its pre-pandemic level," said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.

"Since the start of the pandemic, around half a million more people have completely disengaged from the labour market," he added.

"However, job vacancies are still rising, reaching yet another record high."

The situation is "a nightmare", said Buddy Love, who along with his wife Kate runs the Flying Fish pub, restaurant and hotel in Somerset.

Mr Love said it has taken him six weeks and £2,000 worth of job adverts to find a new chef for his kitchen - and in the end it was word of mouth that delivered the right candidate rather than any advertisement.

"I don't know where these people are," said Mr Love, adding that he had offered a good starting salary of £36,000 and perks such as free accommodation to entice the right person.

Luckily, a Romanian couple, who had previously worked in the UK, will soon take up the role as a job share, freeing Mr Love from the kitchen so he can focus on his main job of "developing the business and making sure it grows".


Pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 4.2% between January and March but failed to keep up with the rising cost of living - which hit 7% in March and is expected to go higher.

It meant that pay, when adjusted for the impact of rising prices, and excluding bonuses, dropped by 1.2% - the biggest fall since 2013.

Some sectors such as construction and financial services benefitted from bonus payments as firms put up pay to recruit staff, the ONS said. This saw total pay, which includes bonuses, rise by 7% between January and March, keeping pace with rising prices.

Mr Morgan said: "Continued strong bonuses in some sectors such as construction and especially finance mean that total pay is continuing to grow faster than prices on average, but underlying regular earnings are now falling sharply in real terms."

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