Queen, Obama, EU....what unemployment figures?

Later tonight President Obama and the Queen will be having dinner to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th. Both head of states undoubtedly have their views on the EU referendum but only one of them will be on the record.

Tomorrow Obama is meeting with Cameron where the President of the United States will be making a well-trailed speech arguing for the UK to remain in the EU. What is potentially significant about this speech is not its content, but the global attention it will generate. For many in the US, the EU referendum was something happening on a small island and of little consequence. But Obama’s rhetoric on the global economic impact of Brexit, will certainly grab Wall Street’s attention and stop it being merely a footnote in analysts’ policy audits or economic outlooks. Meanwhile the ‘Remain’ campaign will look to capitalise on Obama popularity and Donald Trump’s support of Brexit to give further legitimacy to their campaign.

Meanwhile back to the day job, the Government had to publish some rather unwelcome news that unemployment has risen in the UK. The new Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb was quick to blame the threat of Brexit being partly responsible. However, blaming Brexit is a bit of red herring. The Government know the press will first comment on the spin before diving into the reasons behind the rise in unemployment. And by then we will be too busy celebrating the Queen's birthday or talking about Obama’s speech.

Brexit or no Brexit, rising unemployment always sends a shockwave through Government. Over the past few months, there have been a string of closures and job losses in manufacturing, heavy industry and the energy sector. This should be re-raising questions about UK productivity and how do create the right environment "to get Britain building". 

Although a rise of 21,000 is not statistically significant, for all MPs votes and jobs are their currency, so this will put political nerves on edge. The Government’s hurried attempts to get a deal for Port Talbot is a useful insight into the Government’s nervousness over employment and industrial policy. 

These unemployment figures will only increase the pressure from Government on growing industries to make up the shortfall and provide some positive headlines on job creation. 

Douglas McIlroy

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search