The number of job vacancies in the UK has topped 1 million for the first time on record, according to new figures.
There were an estimated 1,034,000 vacancies between June and August this year, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.
This is the highest number since records began two decades ago, and 249,000 above the pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level.
Meanwhile, worker numbers have also rebounded to pre-pandemic levels after the biggest jump in employment since 2014.
The 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 the rate of unemployment dropped again, to 4.6 per cent – in line with analysts’ predictions.
There has been a “strong increase” in the employment rate among people aged between 16 and 24, alongside a decrease in the unemployment and inactivity rates.
Young people had seen particularly significant increases in unemployment as retail, hospitality and leisure roles were impacted by the pandemic.
But the latest figures show significant growth in these industries, with the accommodation and food services industry seeing a 75.4 per cent increase in the number of job openings.
Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said the hospitality sector recorded “the highest proportion of employers reporting their job openings are hard to fill”.
He also revealed about 1.5 million people in the UK were still on the furlough scheme in August and it is uncertain what will happen to their jobs when the programme ends this month.
Mr Athow told the BBC’s Today programme: “The furlough scheme comes to an end in September and we still see significant numbers of people on furlough in August.
“Our own numbers were that it’s around 1.5 million, from surveying businesses.
“Roughly half of those people are on partial furlough, but half of them were actually on full furlough, and we don’t know what’s going to happen to them when the scheme ends at the end of September.”
He added: “You might well be at risk of losing your job.”
Meanwhile, the ONS also reported a continued increase in wage growth, with total earnings, including bonuses, rising by 8.3 per cent for the three months to July against the same period last year.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s statistics show that our plan for jobs is working – the unemployment rate has fallen for seven months in a row, the number of employees on payrolls is back above pre-pandemic levels and there were fewer potential redundancies notified in August than at any point since the start of last year.
“As we continue to recover from the pandemic, our focus remains on creating opportunities and supporting people’s jobs.”
Additional reporting by PA
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies