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Job openings on the decline

Plus, the UK's biggest lender has a major warning for the next PM, a spotlight on AI washing and new theme park to boost economy by nearly £50bn

We are hiring sign on a restaurant table

The general election is now just seven days away and the final head-to-head between the two main parties is done. Inspired by the Euros, Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak hammered out a draw in the debate on the BBC last night, according to YouGov polls.

This morning, job board Indeed released its mid-year UK labour market update, which is a key piece of the inflation/interest rate puzzle. It shows job postings on the platform are down 20 per cent year on year and were slightly below their pre-Covid numbers for the first time, indicating that the job market is still in a precarious position.

Indeed - job postings on Indeed

However, Indeed’s findings on wage growth back up ONS stats released earlier this month. Average starting pay for new hires rose 6.5 per cent in May, the fastest pace in four months. This uplift is largely due to the rise in minimum wage, which kicked in from April.

The labour market’s Brexit hangover seems evident in the report’s findings around foreign jobseekers. In 2016, EU countries made up seven of the top 10 sources of foreign clicks on UK jobs. In the first half of this year, only three EU countries made the list, with Ireland, Italy, Poland and Romania dropping out.

Indeed - Share of foreign clicks on UK jobs 2016 vs 2024

Despite immigration being a hot topic in the election campaign, 5.2 per cent of searches for UK jobs were from abroad in May 2024, up from a low of 2.4 per cent at the start of the pandemic. Indeed’s senior economist Jack Kennedy says that “UK businesses may want to look at jobseekers from outside the country to fill gaps”.

The revelations about European interest dipping come on the day that the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce urges the next government to work to improve ties with the EU. The BCC represents more than 50,000 businesses across the country. Its boss Shevaun Haviland says: “We must stop walking on eggshells and start saying it how it is. The current plan isn’t working for our members.”

Haviland also says that it is time for a government “reset”. Pointing to the rotating door of the residents of Number 10, she says: “We’ve worked with the current government – they have listened. But it’s been difficult for us when your counterpart is constantly changing.”

Elsewhere, with many analysts predicting that Labour’s lead is insurmountable, business leaders have thrown their support behind the party’s plans to overhaul the current apprenticeship scheme. Some 57 leaders, including executives from the pub group Fuller’s, outsourcers Serco and Mitie, and Merlin Entertainments, have backed Labour’s plan for a new growth and skills levy. The plan will allow firms to use up to 50 per cent of their levy contributions to fund training through routes other than apprenticeships.

Business Question

Guess the year

  • Telecoms company Orange lists on the London Stock Exchange
  • The UK’s oldest merchant bank, Barings Bank, collapses
  • Ebay and Yahoo! are founded
  • British Gas chief executive Cedric Brown receives a 75 per cent pay rise, leading to widespread discussions about executive pay

The answer can be found at the bottom of the page.

Business in Brief

Everything you need to know

1. The boss of the UK’s biggest lender has warned whoever wins the general election that they will not be able to fuel growth by increasing government borrowing. Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Charlie Nunn told Sky News that he thinks “we can create that positive momentum for investment in jobs and business growth” but warns that the pandemic, war in Ukraine and other “massive shocks” would limit the next government’s ability to invest. You can read more here.

2. The Financial Conduct Authority is coming under increasing pressure to block the listing of fast-fashion giant Shein due to concerns over the alleged use of forced labour in its supply chains. In a letter to the City watchdog today, seen by City AM, lawyers of the campaign group Stop Uyghur Genocide have called for the Chinese-founded retailer’s rumoured London IPO to be blocked unless the regulator is “satisfied that its products are not tainted by forced labour”. You can read more here.

3. The UK needs a system for recording misuse and malfunctions in artificial intelligence or ministers risk being unaware of alarming incidents involving the technology, according to a report from the Centre for Long-Term Resilience. The think tank is calling for the next government to create a system for logging incidents involving AI in public services and consider building a central hub for collating AI-related episodes across the UK. You can read more here.

4. Universal has said a Hollywood theme park it plans to build in Bedfordshire will be open 365 days a year and will boost the UK economy by nearly £50bn. The group plans to build on a 476-acre site in Kempston Hardwick near Bedford. The company has an option to buy a further 60 acres. You can read more here.

5. Amazon has crossed the $2tn market cap threshold for the first time amid its push into artificial intelligence. It joins Google-parent Alphabet in the $2tn market cap club. Microsoft, Apple and Nvidia remain the top three most valuable public companies in the world. You can read more here.

Business Quotes

Inspiration from leaders

“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently.”
– Marie Forleo

Business Thinker

Ideas on the future of business and leadership

1. ♻️ What is ‘AI washing’ and why is it a problem? ♻️

2. 💸 How has private equity shaped the UK economy? 💸

3. ☕ How Starbucks devalued its own brand

And finally…

We’ve all sent an email in the heat of the moment that we’d probably like to take back. But when you’re one of the most recognisable business leaders on the planet, these emails tend to hang around in the zeitgeist. 

X user @eyishazyer has collated a number of examples of these somewhat brutal emails from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.

You can see the thread here.

The answer to today’s Business Question is 1995.

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