Job vacancy trends

From Statistics Explained

Data from July 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: July 2015.
Figure 1: Job vacancy rate, 2003–13 (1)
(%) - Source: Eurostat (jvs_a_nace1) and (jvs_a_nace2)
Figure 2: Job vacancy rate, 2013 (1)
(%) - Source: Eurostat (jvs_a_nace2)

This article gives an overview of annual job vacancy statistics, notably the job vacancy rate (JVR) in the European Union (EU), Norway, Switzerland and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Eurostat also collects quarterly job vacancy statistics.

EU policies in the area of job vacancies aim to improve the functioning of the labour market by trying to help to match supply and demand more closely. The European jobs and mobility portal (EURES) was set up in order to enable job seekers to consult all vacancies publicised by the employment services of each EU Member State.

Main statistical findings

There was an upward development in the job vacancy rate in the EU-27 from 2003 to 2007, with the rate peaking at 2.2 % at the end of this period. Thereafter, the job vacancy rate contracted in successive years, falling to 1.9 % in 2008. The EU-28 job vacancy rate fell to a historic low of 1.3 % in 2009 (at the height of the global financial and economic crisis). In 2010 there was a slight recovery, as the job vacancy rate stood at 1.4 % and a similar increase was registered in 2011 as the EU-28 job vacancy rate rose to 1.5 %. The latest data available shows little change in the job vacancy rate in the EU-28, with the rate falling to 1.4 % in 2012, and subsequently moving back up to 1.5 % in 2013 — see Figure 1. Note that there is a break in the series, with all data before 2009 relating to the EU-27, while the information from 2009 onwards concerns the EU-28. The difference between the rates of the two aggregates was negligible.

The pattern of development for the euro area was very similar to that recorded for the EU, although the job vacancy rate for the former climbed more rapidly in 2005 and 2006 (when it peaked at 2.3 %), before contracting for three consecutive years to a low of 1.3 % in 2009. The recovery in 2010 was slightly stronger than in the EU-28, as the job vacancy rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 1.5 % where it has stayed since, except for the slightly higher level of 1.6 % in 2011. Note again that there is a break in the series, with all data before 2009 relating to the euro area composed of 16 members, while the information from 2009 onwards concerns the euro area of 18 members. The difference between the rates of these two aggregates was also negligible.

Among the EU Member States, the job vacancy rate in 2013 was highest in Germany (2.6 %), Belgium (2.4 %) and Malta (2.1 %); among the non-member countries shown in Figure 2, Norway also recorded a relatively high job vacancy rate (2.5 %). The number of vacant posts accounted for less than 1.0 % of the total number of posts in 17 of the EU Member States in 2013 (the data for Greece relate to 2012), with the lowest job vacancy rates (0.4 %) recorded in Italy, Cyprus, Poland and Portugal.

Data sources and availability

Data on job vacancies and occupied posts may be analysed by economic activity, occupation, size of enterprise and region. The national statistical authorities responsible for compiling job vacancy statistics send these statistics to Eurostat. Their data are used to compile the job vacancy rate for the EU and the euro area.

Some of the data provided by the EU Member States fails to match common criteria and there may be differences in the coverage of the data between countries; as a result, there are currently no EU totals for the actual numbers of job vacancies or occupied posts. Work is currently under way to close these coverage gaps.

The EU and euro area job vacancy rates are calculated on the basis of the information that is available; no estimates are made for missing or incomplete data. It is therefore not possible, at present, to provide EU or euro area job vacancy rates analysed by economic activity, occupation or size of enterprise.


The job vacancy rate, in part, reflects the unmet demand for labour, as well as potential mismatches between the skills and availability of those who are unemployed and those sought by employers. Job vacancy statistics are used by the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) to analyse and monitor the development of the labour market for the EU and its individual Member States. These statistics are also a key indicator for assessing the business cycle and for a structural analysis of the economy.

Policy developments in this area have mainly focused on trying to improve the labour market by more closely matching supply and demand, through:

  • modernising and strengthening labour market institutions, notably employment services;
  • removing obstacles to worker mobility across Europe;
  • better anticipating skills needs, labour market shortages and bottlenecks;
  • managing economic migration;
  • improving the adaptability of workers and enterprises so that there is a greater capacity to anticipate, trigger and absorb economic and social change.

The European jobs and mobility portal (EURES) was set up with the aim of providing job seekers in the EU with the opportunity to consult all job vacancies publicised in each of the Member States’ employment services. The website provides access to a range of job vacancies from 32 European countries (the 28 EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

European job days are another EU initiative in this domain with 2014 marking the eighth edition of this programme of activities, with hundreds of events being organised across Europe with the aim of raising awareness about the opportunities and practicalities of living and working in another European country, encouraging mobility throughout the EU, and putting job candidates in touch with employers who have job vacancies. The events typically include job fairs, seminars, lectures, workshops and cultural events, all aimed at improving labour mobility.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Quarterly job vacancies and job vacancy rates, total NACE_Rev. 2 (Sections B to S) (tps00172)


Job vacancy statistics by occupation and NUTS 2 regions - annual data, NACE Rev. 2 (from 2008) (jvs_a_nace2)
Job vacancy statistics - quarterly data, NACE Rev. 2 (from 2001Q1) (jvs_q_nace2)
Job vacancy statistics (NACE rev. 1.1) - historical data (jvs_nace1)
Job vacancy statistics by occupation and NUTS 2 regions - annual data, NACE Rev. 1.1 (2000-2008) (jvs_a_nace1)
Job vacancy statistics - quarterly data, NACE Rev. 1.1 (2001Q1-2009Q4) (jvs_q_nace1)

Dedicated section

Job vacancies

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links