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Express & Star comment: Brexit still big risk to job figures

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

On the face of it, the latest unemployment figures represent some positive news at a time when such a thing is decidedly thin on the ground.

Wolverhampton's Job Centre Plus

Across the UK employment is at its highest level since records began in 1971, with more than three quarters of the population currently in work.

And unemployment has fallen below four per cent for the first time in nearly 45 years.

The picture across the wider West Midlands is also fairly rosy.

The unemployment rate is stable over the past three months, with 5.1 per cent of the working population jobless, while average earnings are rising faster than inflation.

There are some areas of concern, and the growing unemployment benefit claimant rate in some towns and cities suggests that some areas of the region are in danger of falling behind.

And while the overall picture in the UK is one of a strong and resilient economy, we should not rest on our laurels.

Businesses are understandably at their wits end over our politicians failure to deliver a Brexit deal on time.

Having spent the last two years warning about the dangers of uncertainty over our departure for the EU, they are now facing up to a delay of up to two years.

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A buoyant employment market is welcome, but in the current climate circumstances can change rapidly.

We know that many firms across this region have held back on investment while the Brexit malaise has dragged on in the Commons.

Jobs may have been preserved up to this point, but with the whole withdrawal process almost certain to extend way beyond March 29 the danger signs are there for all to see.

The longer the UK's relationship with Brussels remains in limbo, the greater the uncertainty for businesses.

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If more companies decide to halt investment or even quit Britain for other nations, there will eventually be an impact on the country's job figures.

There is nothing wrong with cautious optimism, and we have certainly had enough of so-called experts talking the economy down in recent months.

But we should not allow proclamations of a booming economy to lull us into a false sense of security.

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