Cambridge to increase employment levels during year of Brexit uncertainty, says new study

A new study predicts Cambridge will this year outperform other hotspots such as Milton Keynes when it comes to employment growth, adding that more people will be employed within the city in 2019 Q3 than there were in the same period last year.

The UK Powerhouse study by law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) predicts what the impact of Brexit will be on the economy.

Assuming Theresa May gets her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, it says that Cambridge’s year-on-year employment growth in Q3 2019 will reach 1.5%.

It adds that employment headcount in the city will increase from 136,300 during Q3 2018 to 138,400 in the third quarter of this year.

UK Powerhouse also looks at three distinct Brexit scenarios: downside, central and upside, on the UK’s economy between now and 2034.

It assesses the impact on GDP, population, unemployment, consumer spending, business investment, exchange rates and BoE rates.

It says that after 2019, unemployment will initially increase in all potential Brexit forecasts. However, even at its highest in the downside scenario, unemployment will remain 1.8 percentage points below its peak during the financial crisis.

Other key findings include:

  • In the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, GDP and business investment growth are both set to see sharp declines in the short term. At their lowest points, GDP is expected to contract 0.2% while real business investment falls by 8.4%.
  • Under the central scenario, the report anticipates a more stable trajectory across most of the macro indicators as the transition period gives time to pursue an orderly Brexit.
  • From 2025, the interest rate in the downside and central scenarios move in tandem as the Bank of England remains committed to normalising monetary policy.

Josie Dent, Economist at Cebr said: “With uncertainty still surrounding what the deal – or indeed lack of deal – between the UK and EU will be on departure day, Cebr’s economic forecasts under different scenarios highlight the impact that Brexit could have on the economy, finding that business investment is set to suffer in particular in the months following a potential no-deal Brexit. However, our models show that the UK labour market in a no-deal scenario is more resilient than some expect, as the changing nature of employment means firms can be more flexible and adjust without the need to fire employees.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

Methodology note

Cebr’s central scenario is based on Theresa May’s current Withdrawal Agreement. Its forecasts are based on the assumption that the UK and the EU are able to form a compromise and sign a partial free trade agreement (FTA) covering at least the most important goods traded. It is unlikely that such an FTA can be agreed on in time, before the UK needs to leave the EU in 2019. It therefore assume that a transitional arrangement will be put in place that allows a continuation of the current relationship without any major disruptions until an FTA is agreed on around 2021. On the immigration policy, we rely on the lower immigration population estimates assuming that a visa system will be implemented for EU nationals, but that the requirements (e.g. the minimum salary, the NHS surcharge payment, the application fees etc.) would be more relaxed than they currently are for non-EU nationals requiring a visa.

The report contains two additional forecasts for different scenarios. These are:

Upside scenario: A deal is agreed which is similar to the current PM’s deal, but with added provisions on trade which emulate current trading arrangements.

Downside scenario: UK leaves EU with no deal and no transition period.

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