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Labour market stagnation shows need to incentivise investment

Hospitality vacancies remain stubbornly above pre-pandemic levels, with little positive movement in five months.

Vacancies persist

There were 107,000 vacancies in hospitality in the quarter to April 2024, according to the Office for National Statistics. This is 15% higher than pre-pandemic levels of 93,000.

Wages paid in the sector increased by 9.5% in March 2024, driven in part by ongoing wage inflation, the sector’s focus on recruitment and retention, and some business implementing April wage increases early.

Our response

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said: “These figures demonstrate a labour market that is out of sync with the positive economic news seen elsewhere, particularly GDP increasing.

“Hospitality businesses are investing heavily in their people, with wages up almost 10% in the last year, but the lack of movement in vacancies shows the need for the sector to be unshackled in other areas to free them up to invest and drive economic growth.

“Rebalancing and reducing the sector’s cost burden must be a priority because we’re continuing to see money earmarked for business investment diverted into simply paying the bills.

“There is appetite out there to invest. Hospitality businesses want to spend money on the future, but they need to be freed up financially to do so.

“I hope the Government recognises the potential hospitality holds and its unique ability to help the nation achieve its economic goals.”