LONDON, March 14 British employers plan to hire
staff at the slowest pace in three years because of uncertainty
about the country's exit from the European Union, a survey by
recruiting firm Manpower showed on Tuesday.
"The companies which have powered Britain's economy through
the immediate post-referendum period are easing off the gas,"
Mark Cahill, ManpowerGroup's UK managing director, said.
Britain's labour market remained strong in 2016 despite the
shock of the Brexit vote. The unemployment rate is at its lowest
level in more than 11 years although most forecasters expect it
will rise this year.
Manpower said only companies in construction, manufacturing
and transport and communications planned to keep their hiring
levels unchanged, helped in particular in construction by the
government's infrastructure and housebuilding plans.
But firms in the six other sectors covered by the survey
were cutting back.
Furthermore, companies in London and Scotland, which were
the areas which voted most strongly to remain in the EU,
reported the biggest falls in hiring plans.
"With huge uncertainty surrounding sectors like banking and
financial services – critical to the economy in London and
Edinburgh – it's no surprise that confidence in these regions is
suffering," Cahill said.
Separately on Tuesday, the British Chambers of Commerce
raised its forecasts for economic growth this year to 1.4
percent, up from a previous estimate of 1.1 percent but still
weaker than Britain's average growth rate.
The BCC said 2018 was shaping up to be slightly worse than
it previously thought with growth edging down to 1.3 percent.
Last week, Britain's official budget forecasters said they
expected the economy would grow 2 percent this year, in line
with the Bank of England's estimate but stronger than most
private economists expect.
The BCC said it expected business investment would contract
by 0.5 percent in 2017 before growing by 0.2 and 1.0 percent in
the following two years.
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce)