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City firms exercise hiring caution in Brexit run-up


Data suggest Brexit and Article 50's imminence has had a depressing effect on City jobs and hiring activity

Larger firms are exercising hiring caution in the run-up to the triggering of Article 50, according to research from the Morgan McKinley London Employment Monitor.

February saw the number of City jobs available drop by almost a quarter (23%) month-on-month, indicating a stressful time in the job market.

There has also been a 12% month-on-month decrease in professionals seeking jobs, and a 38% year-on-year decrease in professionals seeking jobs, suggesting workers are hoping to stay put in the current climate. However, the year-on-year drop in available jobs was a modest 17%.

Hakan Enver, operations director for Morgan McKinley Financial Services, said he believes the negative effect was due to the government being on the verge of triggering Article 50, which will allow the UK to exit the EU.

“The data suggests that Brexit has had a fundamental depressing effect on City jobs,” he said. “We’ve already witnessed what was a handful of jobs leaving become hundreds. How long before we’re looking at losing thousands, even millions?”

The report cites research from CityUK data collated in 2015, which estimated the relocation of the financial services industry from the UK would cost the economy £176 billion a year and 2.2 million jobs.

Enver added that Brexit has pushed institutions into two camps. “On one side we’ve got the ‘business as usual’ team, and on the other we have the institutions that are tired of the government’s hemming and hawing and have already begun to move jobs to other EU countries,” he said. “It’s the latter group that’s contributed to the quarter drop in jobs available.

“The government knows what’s on the line, but it's still choosing to send mixed messages about passporting, trade, euro clearing, and the right of EU nationals to live and work across the UK, not just here in London. It may well be a negotiating tactic, but it’s one that’s having very real consequences for people’s lives and for our economy.”