Two-thirds of adults now travelling to work, official figures show

Proportion of people commuting is at its highest since mid-May, with the number of online job adverts also on the rise

Almost two-thirds of adults travelled to work at least once last week, according to official figures, the highest number since data began to be collected in May on how the pandemic has affected the UK economy and society. 

The proportion of adults who travelled to work between 7 and 11 October was 65 per cent, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown. This marked an increase of four percentage points compared to the previous week, and the highest proportion of staff commuting to work since the ONS began collecting data on this in mid May, when only 37 per cent travelled to a workplace. 

During this same period, the proportion of people working from home exclusively increased slightly from 22 per cent to 23 per cent, however.

The ONS data also revealed the number of people who did not work from home or travel to work that week – which included individuals on furlough, sick leave, annual leave, maternity or paternity leave, or who had no contracted hours that week. It showed this decreased by five percentage points to 12 per cent, the lowest proportion since May.

And in the two weeks to 4 October – less than a month before the scheme was replaced by less generous job support measures – just 9.1 per cent of the UK’s workforce remained on furlough. This was a 0.3 percentage point drop from the previous reporting period.

The figures also found the number of total online job adverts increased from 61 per cent to 63 per cent of their 2019 average, the highest recorded level since 3 April this year. These figures, provided to the ONS by Adzuna, showed this to be the second consecutive week that online adverts reached above 60 per cent of their 2019 average. 

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The number of online job adverts increased in every country and region of the UK, except Wales and Northern Ireland, with the latter experiencing the largest decrease – down two percentage points to 67 per cent of its 2019 average. During this same period, job listings in Wales dropped by one percentage point to 76 per cent of their 2019 average.

The two regions with the highest volumes of online job adverts compared to their 2019 averages were the East Midlands (at 83 per cent) and the North East (76 per cent). London remained the region with the lowest volume of job adverts compared to its 2019 average, at 51 per cent.

The survey found that online job adverts in the healthcare and education sectors each saw the largest increase, by four percentage points. Adverts for healthcare roles jumped to 95 per cent, while the number of online adverts for roles in the education sector rose to 80 per cent of its 2019 average. Healthcare also had the highest volume of online job adverts compared with the sector’s 2019 average.

However, online job adverts within the catering and hospitality industry saw a decrease of 5 percentage points to 32 per cent – the second consecutive week that the number of adverts had decreased in the sector.