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Brexit fatigue hits London jobs

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Brexit fatigue is weighing on the London jobs market, with EU nationals returning home and companies reluctant to hire.

The London Employment Monitor from Morgan McKinley Financial Services showed a 3% month-on-month rise in financial services jobs coming to the market. However, this is still 14% below its level a year ago, signalling ‘a stubborn lethargy in City hiring’. February is traditionally a busy hiring season in the City, after bonuses are paid.

The number of City workers looking for new jobs was down dramatically: 20% month-on-month and 35% year-on-year. Hakan Enver, managing director at the group, said:10,000 fewer people were looking for new financial services positions in February of this year than in 2016. Numerous factors are impacting this lack of desire from professionals to search for new opportunities. A small proportion are still waiting for bonus season, which typically falls at the end of the first quarter.

“Added to that, more and more EU nationals are returning back to their home nations, therefore, reducing the overall numbers of people searching in the London markets. Clearly there is a lack of confidence for some in securing a new role; nobody wants to be told that, three months into a new job, it may be relocated abroad.”

This study released in February by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation found that employers are also undecided about hiring. Among companies with over 250 employees, 47% reported not knowing whether or not they will step up or reduce their number of agency workers in the next three months. The Morgan McKinley study showed a similar picture, with uncertainty rising from this time a year ago. 18% of employers report not knowing about their medium-term plans for permanent workers, up from 10% in February 2017.

There have also been some notable rounds of redundancies, including from Lloyds and Deutsche Bank. Lloyds is looking to eliminate around 600 jobs in London, while Deutsche Bank looks set to lose 250-500.

The group also reported that fatigue over not knowing what the terms of the divorce are is palpable. “Everyone’s tired of fretting about Brexit and just wants to get on with it, but there are still too many unanswered questions holding businesses back. This is evidently showing in both jobs coming to market and those applying to them” said Enver.

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