In the UK referendum held on 23 June 2016, the UK voted for Brexit – for the UK to leave the European Union (EU). During the referendum campaign, people on both sides of the argument had a lot to say about the impact that leaving the EU would have on the UK job market.
Those who campaigned to leave the EU argued that leaving would have a positive impact on the UK job market. A vote to leave would, they argued, lead to the end of free movement and the introduction of controls on immigration from the EU, therefore freeing up jobs for those who already live in the UK.
Those who campaigned to remain argued that leaving the EU would have a negative impact on the UK jobs market – it would lead to the job market in the UK deteriorating and to rising inflation, which would affect wages growth. The reality is that while there may have been a short-term increase in the number of job vacancies in certain sectors, the full impact of the decision to leave the EU on the UK labour market as a whole has yet to be felt.
The increase in job vacancies within certain sectors has been reported by Reed, one of the UK’s largest recruitment companies. The sectors that saw an increase in vacancies were construction and property, education, and accountancy. In the eight weeks that followed the referendum vote, Reed posted 30,000 more vacancies than at the same time in 2015; meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics reported that UK unemployment was continuing to fall in the month of July.
It may be that the increase in vacancies and falling unemployment has nothing to do with the Brexit vote and this has yet to have a bearing on the jobs market; however, the potential long-term effect cannot be ignored and will need to be monitored closely, particularly in the light of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy and the continuing discussions about how the UK intends to control immigration from within the EU.
Overall, the long-term effect of Brexit on the UK job market has still to be determined and it will be interesting to see whether the increase in job vacancies reported by Reed in the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave the EU can be sustained in the medium to long term.
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