LONDON — The number of people in the European Union looking for jobs in Britain since the start of the year has fallen at a faster rate than in the immediate aftermath of last year’s Brexit vote, according to jobs website Indeed.
Indeed says it has seen traffic from EU countries looking at British listings decline by 18% since the beginning of 2017. Indeed gets over 200 million visitors a month, with job listings across 60 countries and in 28 languages.
The news of the drop off in EU workers looking to the UK comes just days before Article 50 is triggered. Prime Minister Theresa May says she will invoke the article on Wednesday, officially starting the two-year Brexit negotiation process.
Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, says in an email: “As Article 50 looms, we are seeing a sharper and longer decline in interest in working in the UK than in previous ‘shock drops’ following last year’s referendum. As Brexit moves from rhetoric to reality, the strain on Britain’s strong but tight labour market will worsen.”
The 18% drop-off is part of a longer-term drift that Indeed has observed in EU interest in British jobs, as the below graph shows:
Brexiteers may well cheer the decline in interest from EU workers. Immigration was a key issue in the referendum debate and Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear that regaining control over Britain’s borders is a key priority for her in Brexit negotiations. In short, the government wants less people coming over to the UK from Europe.
However, the slowdown could create serious problems for the economy. 44.3% of all new jobs created in the economy since 2008 were filled by people born in another EU country, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Much of this is down to workers from recession-hit countries Spain and Greece coming to the UK to fill jobs that Brits do not want. Sandwich chain Pret A Manger recently revealed that only one in five applicants for its jobs are UK-born.
Pret A Manager is one of several companies now warning that Brexit could create serious staffing problems. The retail industry, service sector, and catering trade are all heavily reliant on overseas workers to fill jobs.
Indeed’s Mamertino says: “For better or worse, a British labour market with fewer EU workers will be immediately confronted with a range of complex questions that will need to be resolved quickly to prevent major disruption.”
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