Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, June 2023

8 min read
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Get the latest hiring and employment data insights for small businesses in the UK, the US and Canada by following the links below:

U.K. Index | U.S. Index | Canada Index | About the Index | Methodology

UK Index | Small Business Job Vacancies

-4,400 vacancies | -2.90%

In the UK in May, small businesses with one to nine employees had 4,400 fewer job vacancies compared to the previous official benchmark of 154,000 in April’s Vacancy Survey, published by the Office for National Statistics.* That’s a monthly decrease of -2.90% to 149,600 job vacancies — doubling April’s reported decrease of -1.42%.

Small business job vacancies fell in 75% of sectors. Sectors with the largest decreases were: 

  • Transport and storage (SIC H) — such as taxi companies and railway support services — with a drop of -6.19% to 9,600 job vacancies 

  • Construction (SIC F) — including roofing companies and demolition services — with a drop of -4.91% to 900 job vacancies

  • Accommodation and food services (SIC I) — including hotels and hostels, catering services, and pubs — with a drop of -4.01% to 9,700 job vacancies 

But in three sectors, small business job vacancies went up. Sectors with increases were:

  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation (SIC R) — such as museums and art galleries and fitness facilities — with an increase of 2.63% to 5,700 job vacancies 

  • Health care and social work (SIC Q) — including nursing homes and dental offices — with an increase of 1.25% to 10,500 job vacancies  

  • Finance and insurance (SIC K) — including wealth management firms — with and increase of 0.81% to 7,200 job vacancies 

England had the largest decrease in the UK, with a drop of -3.12% to 132,500 small business job vacancies. 

Scotland was the only region that experienced an increase in small business job vacancies, with an uptick of 1.01% to 9,600 vacancies.  

“Persistent inflationary pressure has led the market to anticipate further interest rate hikes, creating increasingly challenging conditions, particularly for small businesses…These prevailing trends are evident in the vacancy numbers of small businesses in the UK.”

Ufuk Akcigit, the Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, said: “The UK government is currently facing a growing sense of urgency in their efforts to control inflation. Despite the Bank of England (BoE) raising the policy rate more than 10 times over the past 18 months, inflation in the UK remains higher compared to the United States, Canada, and the Eurozone as a whole. This persistent inflationary pressure has led the market to anticipate further interest rate hikes, creating increasingly challenging conditions, particularly for small businesses. Notably, when asked about the greatest challenges they are currently confronting, small business owners consistently cite "inflation" as a top concern on their list.

“These prevailing trends are evident in the job vacancy numbers of small businesses in the UK, as reflected in the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index. This Index specifically tracks the job vacancy numbers of small businesses employing at most nine workers. According to the Index, there was a decline in vacancy numbers last month, with a further decrease of -2.90% recorded this month.

“The changes in job vacancy numbers have exhibited regional heterogeneity. Across the UK, England experienced the most significant decline, with a decrease of -3.12%. Conversely, Scotland stands out as the only nation to witness a modest increase in job vacancy numbers, with a rise of 1.01%.

“A similar pattern emerges when considering different sectors. The "Transport and storage" sector in the UK recorded the largest decline in job vacancy numbers, experiencing a decrease of -6.19%. In contrast, the "Arts, entertainment, and recreation" sector saw the highest increase in job vacancy creation, with a rise of 2.63%. These findings illustrate the complex dynamics within the UK small business job market, with some regions and sectors being impacted more than others.

“Small and young businesses are crucial for the future of the UK economy, yet they also are extremely vulnerable to macroeconomic conditions. This is why it is important to closely monitor the economic well-being of these businesses with the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, as doing so not only provides timely insights into the current state of the economy but also serves as an early indicator of what may lie ahead. By keeping a watchful eye on their health, we can gain a deeper understanding of the prevailing economic climate and anticipate future developments with greater accuracy.”

Get all the details from the interactive Small Business Index dashboard.

Media inquiries

Media contact details for QuickBooks in the UK can be found here on the QuickBooks UK website.

About the Index

The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index is a timely new measure of small business employment and hiring in the UK, the US and Canada. The Index launched in March 2023 and is updated monthly. The Index uses purpose-built economic models to normalise anonymised QuickBooks data to reflect the general population of small businesses in each country; it is not a reflection of Intuit’s business. The Index was developed in collaboration with leading economist Professor Ufuk Akcigit and an international team of researchers and academics.


The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index creates aggregated data outputs from a sample of anonymised QuickBooks Online Payroll customer records which are calibrated using statistical methods to create modelled results which better reflect the general population of small businesses in each country, as represented by published official statistics. Statistical adjustment ensures the Index truly reflects employment and job vacancy changes rather than trends in the QuickBooks customer base.

Read more or download the full methodology.

Rounded values

Total and monthly changes in employment and job vacancies have been rounded to the nearest hundred. Monthly changes and growth rates are calculated before total employment or job vacancy values are rounded. Rates have been rounded to the nearest hundredth.

Seasonal adjustments

The Index’s data insights are seasonally adjusted to limit the effect of seasonal patterns in employment and hiring throughout the year, which lead to regular fluctuations in workforce growth and contraction.

Employment growth formula

Employment growth(t) = [Employment(t)-Employment(t-1)]/[0.5*Employment(t)+0.5*Employment(t-1)]

*Employment levels

The Index produces a monthly prediction of employment growth rates by country, region, and sector. In order to translate these growth rates into the number of jobs/vacancies gained or lost, the growth rates are multiplied by the prior month’s predicted employment levels, except during the months when official statistics are published. During those months, the latest official employment levels that have been reported are used in the calculation instead of the Index’s prior month’s predicted employment levels. As a result, the Index’s predicted total employment levels may at times differ from the predicted growth rates. Official statistics are published at different frequencies depending on the country ranging from monthly to quarterly.

Time series

The Index uses data going back to January 2018 in the UK and to January 2015 in the US and Canada. Published at the earliest opportunity every month, the Index shows the number of job vacancies at small businesses (in the UK) or the number of people employed by small businesses (in the US and Canada) in the previous month and how that number has changed since the month before. The Index helps to eliminate almost all of the time lags in official statistics by providing estimated projections of what those statistics will ultimately show when they are published.

Sample sizes

The total sample across all three countries is around 424,000 small businesses. The UK sample is almost 25,000 small businesses. The US sample is almost 333,000 small businesses. The Canadian sample is almost 66,000 small businesses. The minimum sample sizes for regions or sectors to be included in the Index are 200 small businesses in the UK, 1,000 small businesses in the US and 800 small businesses in Canada. 

Target populations

In the UK and US, the Index targets the populations of small businesses with one to nine employees. In Canada, the target population is small businesses with one to 19 employees. The differences ensure the Index’s data insights are consistent with official statistics in each country, which are used for benchmarking during the calibration process. Timely data insights for these populations of small businesses are particularly valuable since most datasets fail to cover this portion of the economy well. Please note: Unlike in the US and Canada, the UK Index uses job vacancy data for calibration rather than employment data because official employment statistics are not currently available for small businesses on a monthly basis. 

External data sources

External data sources used alongside the samples of anonymised QuickBooks Online Payroll customer data include:

Geographic regions

  • In the UK, data insights are currently available at the country level (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) — not regionally within countries

Industry sectors


This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining professional advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by region, state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

We may occasionally provide third-party links as a convenience and for informational purposes only. Intuit does not endorse or approve  the views or opinions of any corporation or organisation or individual herein. Intuit accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, or legality, of third-party  content.


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