The number of UK job vacancies from August to October 2021 headed to new record highs of 1.2 million — up 388,000 from pre-COVID levels.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 15 out of 18 sectors showed record highs.
The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.3% — 0.3 percentage points higher than before the pandemic, but 0.5 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down. In August to October 2021 vacancies rose 222,000 (23.4%), down from 288,000 (43.4%) last quarter.
The largest quarterly increase was seen in “wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles” up 29,600 (24.8%).
"Despite these records, there remains some slack in the labour market, with the economic inactivity rate remaining above the pre-pandemic level," said Rob Clarry, economist at PwC.
"This suggests that some people are reluctant to return to work, potentially due to fears about COVID-19, or they do not have the skills to take roles where demand is hot. We expect to see a period of adjustment over the coming months as people retrain and move into new sectors."
PwC expects the labour market figures will increase pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates in December.
Accommodation and food service activities saw the biggest bump in jobs compared with pre-COVID levels, with an increase of 66,500 — up by 79%.
The ONS said the ratio of unemployed people to vacancies hit a new record low of 1.3 between July and September, meaning the labour market was particularly tight.
The attempts to remedy the HGV driver shortage meant vacancies in transport and storage were up 40.4%. There was also a 41.1% bump in the numbers of construction worker posts.
As furlough ended, redundancies rose slightly in the three months to September — up for the second month running. The redundancy rate increased by 0.2 per thousand on the quarter (the last three months of the furlough scheme), to 3.7 per thousand employees.