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British searches for EU jobs back to post-referendum levels


The spike following the 2016 referendum subsided but the increases in 2017 and 2018 hint at a more sustained trend

The share of UK jobseekers looking for EU-based roles has risen back to levels seen directly after the UK voted to leave the EU, according to data from Indeed.

The first quarter of 2018 saw British searches for jobs in the EU climb to 15.2% higher than that recorded in the pre-referendum first quarter of 2016.

While the spike seen in the days following the 2016 referendum subsided, the steady increases seen in 2017 and 2018 hint at a more significant sustained trend, according to Indeed.

Proximity was found to be be a key driver in jobseekers’ choice of destinations. Ireland was the most popular country, attracting 21.4% of searches, followed by France with 17.5%. Spain garnered 12.8% of searches, while Germany attracted 11.7% and Italy 8.2%.

The data has been released to coincide with the publication of research by Indeed’s labour market research institute Hiring Lab, by the Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP).

The working paper Migration and Online Job Search: a Gravity Model Approach explores the role EU membership plays in job searches. It concludes that ‘leaving the EU may have international immigration impacts’ similar to increasing the distance between Britain and other EU countries ‘by over one third’.

The specific effects on the UK’s workforce will depend on what type of Brexit is finally settled upon. But the analysis suggested that leaving the EU will have a long-term impact on the UK’s labour supply.

“A ‘Brexodus’ is once again a very real possibility,” commented Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “While the initial spike in Britons’ searches for EU jobs might be dismissed as a knee-jerk reaction – inspired by either curiosity or panic – 2018’s steady and sustained return to those levels suggests more Britons are thinking more seriously about a move to elsewhere in the EU.

“Job search patterns give us a strong indication of workers’ future movements – making them especially helpful in these uncertain pre-Brexit times.

“What our figures, combined with our research for the IIEP, strongly suggest is that there could be a lot of movement out of the UK in the next year, with every indication that Brexit will have long-term implications on the UK labour supply.”