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No-deal Brexit threat hits jobs

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The risk of a devastating no-deal Brexit is now hitting job numbers as well as economic growth.

According to today’s labour market figures, there’s been a 56,000 fall in jobs over the latest quarter – the first material drop in over four years.

Unemployment was up to 3.9 per cent following the last quarter’s low of 3.8 per cent.

The fall in employment was driven by employee jobs (shown in purple in the following chart), which fell for the second quarter in a row (by 49,000 this quarter following 85,000 last quarter).

The last time there were two consecutive quarters of employee job decline was during the depths of George Osborne’s austerity regime back in 2011.

Change in employment on quarter, 000
Change in employment on quarter, 000 | Source: ONS and TUC calculations

With GDP stagnant for more than a year, this weakness is hardly surprising.

UK growth has been below the OECD and EU aggregates since the end of 2016. In 2019Q2, annual GDP growth was 1.3 per cent in the UK, 1.4 per cent in the EU and 1.6 per cent for the OECD as a whole.

GDP growth (%), quarter on year ago
GDP growth (%), quarter on year ago

Weak growth and falling jobs means that the recent growth in wages that has been a long time in coming are already hanging by a thread (as the Bank of England have warned).

Job opportunities are also mirroring economic weakness.

The official measure of vacancies has declined for three consecutive quarters – the most prolonged and steepest decline since the global recession.

Vacancies, thousands
Vacancies, thousands

The deterioration in the economy and labour market is hardly surprising.

The threat of a no-deal Brexit comes on top of a decade of austerity and wider concerns about a global recession.

Next week on Thursday 24th October 10-11.30 am at Congress House, Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary will host John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, for a discussion of the austerity decade with IPPR chief economist Carys Roberts and me.

You can register on Eventbrite here .

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