Labour Research November 2021


Labour shortages still to the fore

Labour shortages remain in the spotlight, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting over a million (1,102,000) vacancies.

Numbers continued to grow across most sectors between July and September with the biggest rise in wholesale and retail (including motor vehicle repairs) — up by 35,000 (32.4%). In most sectors though, growth in vacancies has begun to slow down.

The latest figures mean that all industries now have at least as many jobs on offer as before the pandemic. Per hundred employee jobs, accommodation and food service activities had the most (5.9) followed by information and communication (4.9).

Transport and storage, at the centre of the labour shortages story, had 3.4 vacancies per 100 employee jobs, a little below the all-industries figure of 3.7%. These figures point to more widespread labour shortages.

Average weekly earnings continued to grow rapidly with a whole-economy rate of 5.6% in August, although that was down from 7.2% in July. But the customary health warning applies as these figures are still being affected by “special factors that make it hard to read underlying trends”, the ONS says.

The employment rate remained above its pre-pandemic level (75.3%) but so did the rate of unemployment (4.5%).