There’s much talk about labour shortages. These, however, are largely localised. The aggregate labour market is still one of excess supply.
The shortages are largely confined to three sectors: lorry driving, where there are 90,000 fewer drivers than needed; care workers where there might be a shortage of 190,000 by the year-end; and hospitality businesses where the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that there are 117,000 vacancies – 30 per cent more than there were on average before the pandemic. This gives us a total of just under 400,000.
Which is small compared with the level of joblessness. There are 1.6m people officially unemployed and a further 1.8m people outside the workforce who want a job. That’s a total of 3.4m or 8.2 per cent of the working-age population – 200,000 more than at the pre-pandemic low point. This means that even if the three sectors where there are shortages were to recruit within the UK, we’d still be left with 3m unemployed – over 7 per cent of the working-age population.