Updated Jun 23, 2018

The big picture: The U.K.'s economic uncertainty 2 years after Brexit

The Airbus A350 flies at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition. Photo: Power Sport Images/Getty Images

With a little more than nine months to go until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, the country is bracing for a workforce shortage that could cause companies to divest and head elsewhere.

Why it matters: It’s been two years since the Brexit vote, and Prime Minister Theresa May and the country's Conservative government are still attempting to weave legislation through the House of Commons to set the terms of Brexit. Until then, businesses will be left in limbo on what to expect for the country's industries — and some of the fallout is already taking place.

The affected industries

Businesses are "increasingly panicky" about whether the Brexit legislation will be a good deal for them, Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics at King's College London tells Axios.

  • Aerospace company Airbus said in a statement that it's considering leaving Britain altogether. The company employs 15,000 people in 25 locations in the U.K. "In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular. Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated," Airbus COO Tom Williams said in the company's Brexit risk assessment.
  • Nearly all of the seasonal jobs in the U.K., like fruit picking, are held by migrants from Eastern European nations. Last year, unpicked fruit on farms were left to rot due to the shortage of workers. British farmers are already investing in other countries like China as well as other parts of Europe, per The Guardian.
  • Financial service jobs like banking may head Germany after the U.K. leaves the EU. The Bank of England estimates 75,000 financial services jobs could be lost following Brexit, according to the BBC.
  • The number of nurses who registered to practice in the U.K. dropped 96%, according to a June report by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

What to watch: The size of the British workforce is expected to shrink substantially with only about 820,000 new people by 2025, according to employment consultant Mercer. About 2 million people entered employment during the prior 10 years.

It's very hard to imagine how the vote will not affect Britain negatively, Portes said. Because of the vote, people are already less willing to come to the U.K. as it has become viewed as a "less welcoming place" and less guaranteed, financially. Per a CIPS survey:

  • 63% of European businesses expect to reduce their use of U.K. suppliers.
  • One out of five manufacturers plan to lay off workers due to increased costs after Brexit.
  • 65% of businesses are concerned about the future strength of the pound.

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