Job vacancies have hit a record high as the economic recovery continues, according to official figures and a recent article by the BBC.
The number of vacancies in the three months to August rose above one million for the first time since records began in 2001.
Figures also showed employee numbers were back at pre-Covid levels in August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
August payrolls showed another monthly increase of 241,000 to 29.1 million.
Business groups said, however, despite the return of staffing levels to pre-pandemic rates there remained high demand for more staff, and there was a risk labour shortages would dampen growth.
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The ONS deputy statistician, Jonathan Athow, said: “Early estimates from payroll data suggest that in August the total number of employees is around the same level as before the pandemic, though our surveys show well over a million are still on furlough.”
But Mr Athow pointed out that the recovery was not even, with areas such as London and sectors like hospitality and the arts still down.
The ONS also cautioned that young people had been badly affected by job losses.
“The overall employment rate continues to recover, particularly among groups such as young workers who were hard hit at the outset of the pandemic, while unemployment has fallen,” he said.
Overall, the unemployment rate fell from 4.7% to 4.6% in the three months to July.
‘Acute hiring crisis’
Siren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce said, however, that firms were currently facing an “acute hiring crisis”.
“With Brexit and Covid-19 driving a more deep-seated decline in labour supply, the end of furlough is unlikely to be a silver bullet to the ongoing shortages,” he said.
“These recruitment difficulties are likely to dampen the recovery by limiting firms’ ability to fulfil orders and meet customer demand.”
The food and accommodation sectors saw the biggest jump in the number of jobs available in August, increasing by 57,600.
Some companies in the food industry, which has already seen a shortage of fruit pickers and lorry drivers, have been unable to provide normal service recently.
Supermarket bosses have also warned that it is vital to fix the labour shortage problems before key trading over the Christmas period.
Dairy giant Arla, meanwhile, has also had to cut back on milk deliveries to supermarkets because of the driver shortages.
And Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, warned that there could be more pain to come.
“While the pressure should ease as more people look to return to work and the furlough scheme ends, the UK labour market is set to remain choppy with vacancies taking time to fill due to skills shortages and reduced availability of overseas workers,” she said.