The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released findings showing that in the three months ending in November 2016, wage growth increased to 2.8% from 2.6%, whilst unemployment fell by 52,000. The jobless rate was unchanged at 4.8% – still remaining at an 11-year low. Head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, Suren Thiru, commented that the UK jobs market was proving resilient and remained “a major bright spot for the UK economy”.
The ONS have also released statistics showing that the economy grew by 0.6% in the third quarter – faster than previously estimated. The ONS data suggested that the business and financial sectors were more active than previously projected. However the ONS trimmed its estimates of growth for the first and second quarters of the year.
Uncertainty over Brexit
An economic forecast published by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) was however relatively downbeat. It surveyed 1,118 managers and found 65% were pessimistic about the UK’s economic outlook for the next 18 months.
Caution stemmed from what appeared to be a tough year for many organisations, with only 39% of those surveyed saying that they had grown. A further 39% said business levels had stayed roughly the same in 2016 and 22% noted that their business had declined.
When asked about the impact of Brexit on economic growth in the next 3-5 years, 49% thought it would be negative, 37% believed leaving the EU would have a positive impact on the UK economy and 14% thought it would have no impact.
There were also concerns that triggering Article 50 might intensify skills shortages, with 40% of employers saying EU nationals would become more likely to leave the UK, compared with 39% who foresaw no impact and 9% who believed they would be less likely to leave.
The CMI’s chief executive, Ann Francke, said the results showed that despite uncertain times ahead there were still opportunities for “forward-thinking” UK businesses.