Wed | Dec 8, 2021

UK job vacancies hit record high amid worker shortages

Published:Tuesday | October 12, 2021 | 1:09 PM
In this September 30, 2021, file photo, drivers queue for fuel at a petrol station in London. Job vacancies in the UK rose to a record high of nearly 1.2 million, official figures showed Tuesday, October 12, 2021, a further sign that the British economy is experiencing worker shortages in an array of sectors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Britain’s departure from the European Union. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

LONDON (AP) — Job vacancies in the United Kingdom rose to a record high of nearly 1.2 million, official figures showed Tuesday, a further sign that the British economy is experiencing worker shortages in an array of sectors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Britain's departure from the European Union.

Following weeks of long lines at gas stations as motorists struggle to fill up their cars amid a shortage of truck drivers to deliver the fuel and empty shelves at supermarkets, the Office for National Statistics pointed to shortages across the whole economy, including hospitality and transport.

It's become increasingly evident in recent weeks that the British economy is experiencing shortages of labour, and not just of truck drivers.

The causes are widespread but it's clear that the combination of Brexit and the pandemic prompted many EU workers to leave the UK and head home.

The Institute for Employment Studies estimates that the UK has a shortfall of 900,000 workers between the number of people in the labour market now and what would have been expected based on pre-pandemic trends.

“This is being driven by large falls in participation for older people and young people, alongside continued wide employment gaps for disabled people and those with health conditions,” said IES director Tony Wilson.

Though there's a shortfall in workers, the statistics agency said the number of workers on payroll in the UK rose to a record 29.2 million in September as the British economy bounced back following the lifting of restrictions.

The International Monetary Fund forecast Tuesday that the UK will grow by 6.8% this year, more than any other Group of Seven industrial nation, and by a still-high 5% next.

That means the economy will have recouped the 9.8% output lost during 2020 after the pandemic struck some time next year.

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