Number of EU nationals looking to work in UK has fallen steeply since beginning of 2017

by Ray Clancy on March 30, 2017

Britain has now triggered the official process of leaving the European Union which will be completed by at least March 2019, but already fewer Europeans are looking for jobs in the UK.

The latest research suggests that there has been an 18% drop in numbers of Europeans searching online for work in the UK since January, the steepest since the Brexit referendum vote last June.

It also takes the number of UK job searches by people in the EU to 11% below its post-referendum low at a time when British employers rely heavily on European staff as one 44.3% of new jobs created since 2008 were filled by EU workers.

The figures from global job site Indeed also shows that traffic in the opposite direction is increasing with the number of UK residents looking for work in other EU countries up since the start of January.

‘As Brexit moves from rhetoric to reality, the strain on Britain’s strong but tight labour market will worsen. For better or worse, a British labour market with fewer EU workers will be immediately confronted with a range of complex questions that will need to be resolved quickly to prevent major disruption,’ said Mariano Mamertino, Indeed economist for Europe.

A separate Indeed analysis of official data from the Office of National Statistics shows just how reliant the UK has become on EU workers. It found that one million jobs created since 2008 were filled by EU workers and this dependence is most acute in the manufacturing and hospitality sectors, which together account for 26% of all EU nationals employed in the UK.

‘Such heavy reliance on European talent could prove a serious liability if Brexit interrupts the flow of workers. With Europeans’ appetite for working in the UK already on the wane, if a non-EU Britain puts up legal barriers to EU workers coming here, or if the UK economy slumps in the wake of Brexit, European jobseekers won’t hesitate to look elsewhere,’ Mamertino pointed out.

‘UK unemployment is already at its lowest level in four decades, and with a shrinking pool of available talent, many employers face extreme competition when recruiting the people they need to grow,’ he explained.

‘Even with free access to EU workers, Britain’s labour market is stretched tight. If Brexit turns off the tap of European workers it could be stretched to breaking point. As Brexit negotiations begin in earnest with the triggering of Article 50, the stakes for Britain’s labour market, and the wider economy, couldn’t be higher,’ he concluded.

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