Number of employees on UK payrolls returns to pre-pandemic levels, ONS says

14 September 2021, 07:21 | Updated: 14 September 2021, 07:45

Job vacancies in the UK have hit a record high, according to the ONS
Job vacancies in the UK have hit a record high, according to the ONS. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The number of workers on payrolls rose by 241,000 between July and August to rebound above pre-pandemic levels, the Office for National Statistics has said.

The rise in workers represents the biggest jump in employment since 2014. The rate of unemployment has also dropped again, to 4.6% - in line with analysts' predictions.

The ONS said job vacancies in the UK have reached a record high. The number of vacancies in June to August 2021 rose to 1,034,000.

It is the first time vacancies have risen over 1 million since records began, and 249,000 above its pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level.

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."

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “As we continue to push ahead with our recovery, it’s great to see another significant fall in unemployment and the number of people on payrolls rising by 241,000 in August – the biggest monthly increase on record – showing our Plan for Jobs is working.

“We’re helping employers recruit for the record number of vacancies out there, particularly in growing sectors, and supporting people of all ages and backgrounds to overcome barriers, land their next role, and progress in work.”