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Jobs boost as firms still feel pressure - Chamber

14 August 2019

Business leaders have welcomed a boost in employment figures, but have warned that high employment rates and rising wage growth are fuelling recruitment difficulties and cost pressures for firms.

According to figures released by the Office of National Statistics, the West Midlands employment rate rose by 0.5 per cent between April and June since the previous quarter.

In the same period, unemployment fell by 0.5 per cent – the second largest decrease experienced by any region in the same period.

The West Midlands experienced one of the largest increases in employment rate seen across the UK, following larger increases recorded in the South West and Northern Ireland of 0.9 per cent.

Additionally, estimated annual growth in average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, also grew by 3.9 per cent.

After adjusting for inflation, regular pay is estimated to have increased by 1.9 per cent compared to last year’s figures.

Although this regional increase in employment figures is encouraging, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) has said that high national employment and wage growth is putting more pressure on local firms in the advent of Brexit.

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of GBCC, said: “It is encouraging to see the regional labour market picking up over the most recent three months, with a 0.5 per cent increase in employment figures.

“However, with high national employment businesses are facing recruitment difficulties, and sustained increases in wage growth are contributing to increasing cost pressures for local firms.

“Our latest Quarterly Business Report showed that of the 58 per cent of firms in Greater Birmingham attempting to recruit in Q2 of this year, 55 per cent faced recruitment difficulties.

“Uncertainty over the future of immigration post-Brexit – recently renewed by the change in Prime Minister - is furthering these recruitment difficulties and threatening the talent pipelines of many local organisations, large and small.

“Last week’s announcements in regards to immigration rules concerning scientists will only alleviate concerns for a small fraction of these businesses.

“While we are continuing to lobby against a chaotic no-deal Brexit, we are also working hard to help businesses prepare for any scenario.

“That is why we launched the Business Brexit Health Check with the West Midlands Combined Authority.

“It’s free, quick, simple and offers businesses a fully personalised report on how Brexit might impact them and what they can do about it.”

The Business Brexit Health Check provides businesses with a free report highlighting the key areas that may be exposed to Brexit related change and tips on how to prepare, in response to a short set of simple questions about their operations. The Business Brexit Health Check is:

  • Quick – it takes less than five minutes for you to complete
  • Bespoke - only highlights information relevant to your business
  • Designed by industry experts

Take your Business Brexit Health Check here: www.wmca.org.uk/BrexitHealthCheck

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