Brexit Boost: Employment, Earnings, Job Openings Up as EU Migration Falls

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Earnings are up and British employment and job vacancies are at record highs at the country experiences its lowest net EU immigration since 2012.

From September to November 2018, 75.8 percent of people aged 16 to 64 were in paid employment — the highest since records began in 1971, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday.

The economically inactive (not looking for employment) are at 21 percent — again, the lowest since 1971 — while the unemployment rate is at four percent, its lowest rate since the mid-1970s.

Earnings are also up by 3.4 percent in cash terms (1.2 percent once inflation is taken into account).

In addition, for October to December 2018, there were 853,000 job openings — 39,000 more than compared to the same time period the year before and representing a record high.

The good news for British workers comes after reporting in November that net EU migration — the difference between those arriving and leaving — fell to the lowest level since 2012.

Whilst establishment politicians and media lamented that the fall in the number of EU citizens keen to take advantage of free movement to move to Britain was due in part to “Brexit uncertainty”, the drop in cheap foreign labour has benefited the average British worker as employers are finding that the competitive jobs market means Britons can command higher salaries.

Facing the prospect of the end of unlimited low-wage workers from the continent, employers were warned last year “to think now about adjusting to a lower migration environment, in terms of the workers they employ, what they produce and how they operate” by senior economic analyst Stephen Clarke at the Resolution Foundation.

In November 2017, 17 months after the historic vote to leave the EU, the Bank of England noticed this emerging rise in wages and employee mobility,with Gertjan Vlieghe, from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, saying, “We are hearing a lot that firms are finding it more difficult to recruit, not just in isolated sectors but there is more broad-based pressure. They are starting to respond to that by paying a little more.

“I am also hearing from a lot of people that their employees seem more confident to be willing to move jobs for higher pay, whereas previously they might have stuck with what they had.”

However, while a report from the Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said the UK does not require low-skilled migrants after Brexit, the Tories caved to industry pressure and post-Brexit Britain will hand low-skilled migrants 12-month work visas.

The move to keep a flow of cheap migrant labour open will not only break the Conservative Party pledge to bring immigration down to the tens of thousands, but potentially drive down wages for British workers again, as well.

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