The great resignation: record numbers move jobs as redundancies remain steady

The number of employees was up 160,000 to 29.3 million in October.

Job-to-job moves hit a record high of 979,000 in July-September, largely driven by resignations.

Job vacancies hit a record high of 1.172 million, up 388,000 from the pre-pandemic level.

The redundancy rate rose slightly to 3.7 per thousand in July-September, up 0.2 per thousand in the quarter, which is similar to pre-pandemic levels.

The employment rate July-September was 75.4%, up 0.4 percentage points on the quarter, driven by record flows from unemployment to employment. It remains 1.1 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels.

The ONS has released employment and wage data for the three months July-September: UK labour market: November 2021 – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “The great resignation has hit the UK, and persuaded almost a million people that it’s time for a fresh start. We’ve seen a record wave of resignations, as people reassessed their priorities during the pandemic, browsed the over a million vacancies, and joined the mass exodus to greener pastures. But it’s not all good news, because within the figures are an awful lot of people getting left behind.

“For anyone who emerged from lockdowns with new priorities and ambitions, record vacancies have offered new opportunities. We’ve never seen so many people hand their notice in and find work elsewhere. We’ve also seen a wave of older people choose to down tools altogether and leave the workforce earlier than originally planned.

“Meanwhile, October figures hold good news on redundancies. The Bank of England was worried that the end of furlough would spark a wave of redundancies, but so far, so good. The number of employees rose again in October. This may include some people who were made redundant when furlough ended, but are still are working their notice period, but early indications from ONS business surveys so far are that we’re not seeing a big rise in job losses.

“However, there are an awful lot of people buried in these figures who didn’t have any choice but to leave work. We’re seeing record numbers leave their jobs because of long-term ill health, and while we’re seeing a fall in unemployment generally, the numbers who have been out of work for a year or longer is actually on the rise. For many of this group, the record vacancies don’t match their skills or experience, so are no help at all to them.

“These vacancies are also causing major headaches for businesses, who continue to struggle with a shortage of staff. Another record means they can’t find the skilled employees they need, so are struggling to deliver business as usual.”

Other figures from the release:

  • The bulk of the growth in employment came from part-time workers.
  • The unemployment rate was 4.3%, up 0.3 percentage points since pre-pandemic levels, but up 0.5 percentage points from the previous quarter.
  • Total pay (including bonuses) grew 5.8% in the year to July-September and regular pay 4.9%.