There are more job vacancies in the UK than at any time since the economic downturn hit in the second quarter of 2008, according to figures released recently by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

ONS reported there are now 580,000 potential vacancies in the UK, the highest figure since September 2008, when the economy was at its pre-recession height. This has risen from 492,000 in the same period (November to January) only one year ago.

The ONS estimates published today show that the number of people out of work fell by 125,000 to 2.34m in the final quarter of 2013.

More than 193,000 more people were in work in the three months to the end of December than in the previous quarter. This brings the total number in employment to more than 30m.

However, due to a statistical quirk, the rate of unemployment edged up slightly to 7.2% in the last quarter of 2013, from 7.1% in the three months ending November 2013.

Youth unemployment has dropped by 1%

Youth unemployment dropped by 1% on the last quarter, with 49,000 more 16-to-24-year-olds in work.

Kate Shoesmith, head of policy at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), says: “Today’s figures are more good news. The key indicators about numbers of people in work, benefits claimants, and both youth and long-term unemployed are going in the right direction.

“Even better, the official statistics are starting to reflect the data we collect every month from recruiters, which shows that both starting salaries for permanent jobs and agency worker pay rates are increasing month-on-month.

“There’s more good news when you look behind the headline statistics. For instance, we know that nine out of 10 employers have offered a permanent role to someone who was temping for them in the last year.”

Increase is driven by a rise in full-time vacancies

Chris Williamson, chief economist at economic consultancy Markit, says: “Employment rose by 193,000 in the fourth quarter, its largest quarterly rise since the second quarter of 2012, up 396,000 on a year earlier. The increase was driven primarily by a rise in full-time work.

“The vacancy ration the number of unemployed people per unfilled vacancy] now stands at 4.0, the lowest seen since November 2008, and which points to further employment and earnings growth in coming months.”

The number of people in part-time work remains high, standing at 1.4m, which is 46,000 higher than a year ago, according to the ONS.

“Current levels of momentum give hope that the recovery will build, yet there are paradoxes. It seems clear that cautious employers – and possibly employees – are preferring to take temporary roles ahead of going firm on permanent posts.”

John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, says: “The underlying trend in unemployment is firmly downward and the headline rate remains well on track to fall below 7% in the coming months.

“Falling unemployment and a rise in job vacancies is now aiding all categories of jobseekers, including young people and the long-term unemployed, while the problem of underemployment is also starting to ease slightly.”

Reduce recruitment costs with Orbital

Neil Powell, Operations Director comments: “There’s certainly cause for optimism with the latest employment figures. We look forward to continued growth in operations and servicing more clients with their recruitment process outsourcing.

Working with a recruitment company like Orbital, can provide a company with opportunity to completely re-think their recruitment practices and processes. We invite companies of all types to get in touch so we can help them identify new and exciting ways to reduce their recruitment costs together.“

By Helen Younger

Orbital Recruitment are a supplier of personnel for both temporary and permanent vacancies to companies throughout the UK and are a specialist in delivering bespoke recruitment solutions tailored to companies needs. Find out more about the recruitment services we offer.