Baltimore Sun

UK job vacancies high amid worker shortage

- By Pan Pylas

LONDON — Job vacancies in the U.K. 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 labor, 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 U.K. and head home.

The Institute for Employment Studies estimates that the U.K. has a shortfall of 900,000 workers between the number of people in the labor 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 U.K. 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 U.K. will grow by 6.8% this year, more than any other Group of Seven nation, and by a still-high 5% next. That means the economy will have recouped the 9.8% output lost in 2020 after the pandemic struck some time next year.

The increase in hiring and vacancies should help workers returning to the jobs market following the end of a salary support program at the end of last month.

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