Hotels, pubs and restaurants are among those with biggest problems in the UK for recruiting new members of staff
During lockdown, employers scrambling to hire staff amid widespread labour shortages helped to return the number of workers who are on company payrolls to pre-pandemic levels in August, official figures show.
The Office for National Statistics has said that the number of payroll employees had increased by 241,000 to 29.1 million in the month August, lifting employment within all regions to pre-Covid levels except in London, Scotland and the south-east of England.
It came as the figure for job vacancies within the UK soared to over 1m in August for the first time since records began in 2001, rising by 35% within the space of three months across all sectors of British business.
Reflecting upon the difficulty hiring staff after lockdown for a wide range of businesses across the UK, the ONS has said that the largest increase was in accommodation and food services, the sector which includes hotels, pubs and restaurants, with a 75% increase over the past three months.
This comes after industries from pig farming, to fast food restaurants have said that the lack of skilled staff members is disrupting their business. The CBI have said that the staff shortages would harm the UK’s economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.
Business leaders in the UK have warned that shortages of both workers and raw materials for products will hold back Britain’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with lobby groups calling for looser migration rules after Brexit in order to enable firms to hire more staff from within the EU.
The number of EU nationals working within Britain has dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic as many workers had returned to their home countries, while ongoing concerns around the coronavirus and pandemic restrictions, as well as post-Brexit migration rules have limited their return.
Despite the rise in the number of payrolled employees in the month of August, which is collected from HMRC data, the ONS has said that employment within the UK still remained below pre-Covid levels in official data that was gathered in its labour force survey in the three months to July.
Despite the rise in number of payrolled employees in the month of August, which is collected from HMRC data, the ONS has said that employment within the UK still remained below pre-Covid levels in official data that was gathered in its labour force survey in the three months to July.
Unemployment was estimated to be at 4.6%, a drop of 0.3% points on the previous quarter but still 0.6% points higher than before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Employment, which measures the proportion of people who are between the ages of 16 and 64 in work, rose steadily to 75.2% within the three months up to the end of July, but remains 1.3% points lower than the pre-Covid levels.
The official headline rates are different from the HMRC payroll numbers, as they are based on surveys rather than being based on company filings and cover a three-month period. The HMRC figures had also excluded self-employment and may double count some workers who have more than one job.
According to the latest data published by HMRC last week, about 1.6m jobs were still furloughed at the end of July, with the highest numbers in sectors of the economy where pandemic restrictions are toughest. More than half of the total workforce in air passenger transport remains on furlough, while there are also large numbers in the arts and leisure industries.
This comes after research suggests that private rents outside of London are rising at their fastest rate for 13 years, as tenants who are making plans for life post-pandemic compete for rental properties.
The senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, Nye Cominetti, said self-employment remains 700,000 down on pre-Covid levels, adding that as many as 1 million employees could still be on furlough when the scheme closes at the end of this month.
“There is still ground to make up in the labour market. With the furlough scheme ending in little over two weeks’ time, we should expect a fresh rise in unemployment this autumn, particularly among furloughed staff that aren’t able to return to their previous jobs,” he said.
Some economists said the economy appeared to be well prepared for the end of furlough, suggesting that record job vacancies could help to prevent a sharp rise in unemployment.
Grant Fitzner, the chief economist at the ONS, said government data from the Insolvency Service suggested there was little evidence to suggest there would be a sharp rise in redundancies when the scheme ends. Employers must report plans to dismiss 20 or more staff as redundant within a period of 90 days.
“I wouldn’t say there won’t be some people losing jobs, but it’s safe to say ‘so far so good’,” he said.