Global Talent Update - September 2016

GlobeEurope, Middle East and Africa

Britain showed positive employment reports in the wake of the Brexit vote, while improving figures were also seen across Europe and in the Middle East and Africa.

Amid continuing adjustment due to Brexit, the U.K. received news of positive employment figures in the months leading up to the vote. In the three months to July, employment increased to its highest level since record-keeping  began more than four decades ago, the Telegraph reported. During the three-month period, employment grew by 174,000 to bring the total number of those employed to nearly 32 million. The unemployment rate in Britain also continued to hold at 4.9 per cent, the lowest level in 11 years.

The U.K. economy also fared well in other areas. Consumer confidence increased in August as credit card purchases rose to 168 million, up from the average of the prior six months, and the services sector received a boost, according to the APSCo Brexit Journal. Retail sales were 5.9 per cent higher in July compared to the year prior.

While employers in some sectors reported feeling unsure about hiring new workers and adding jobs after Brexit, other sectors have seen improvements, according to BBC. The retail, wholesale and hospitality sector has particularly benefited, seeing a 3 per cent rise in hiring confidence.

In Denmark, government leaders are examining ways to leverage high employment figures and expand the economy. The country is currently at full employment, The Local Denmark reported. Seasonally adjusted unemployment was at 4.2 per cent in May, a figure which reflects people between jobs, the source explained.
"Unemployment has now reached its 'structural level' ... There are, so to speak, no labour reserves among the unemployed," stated the central bank of Denmark in a quarterly report.

However, the bank noted that there have been labour shortages in construction and manufacturing, and advised that industry leaders make efforts to enlarge the national workforce as a whole, across industries.

Employment gains were also reported in France this summer, where the jobless rate dropped by 0.3 per cent in July to bring the total employment in the country to 3.51 million, RFI reported. This was the first drop in employment in two months. So far this year, there are 73,900 fewer people without jobs.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that France needs to continue to support the competitiveness of domestic companies, according to the source.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates exhibited strong growth, with job gains in August marking the fourth consecutive month of employment growth, Emirates 24/7 reported. In addition, salaries reached their highest level in 22 months.

In Morocco, the government announced its prediction that GDP will rise 4.5 per cent next year, reported Al Arabiya.

The country was recently named as one of the most promising African countries in terms of their activity in the energy sector in a study by Havas Horizon, according to Face2Face Africa. The study identified energy as the primary contributor to future economic growth in Africa. The other countries recognized by the study were Nigeria, Ivory Coast, South Africa and Kenya.

Asia-Pacific

As Thailand looks to the future and advanced technologies to boost its employment figures, Japan is reassessing its economic situation after registering record-low employment figures in July.

In Thailand, companies across many sectors and the government are setting their sights on innovation-adapting business models to respond to technological trends to shift to "Thailand 4.0."

The information and technology industry in the country is likely to show double-digit growth this year, the Bangkok Post reported. Much of the growth is forecast to be seen in the financial services industry, while many technology firms will be making the shift to infrastructure management, as opposed to solely offering IT products. There is also a push among companies to embrace mobile software and applications. Lexmark International, for example, now offers workflow management solutions.

"A mobile workforce needs access to information anytime, anywhere," said general manager of Asia-Pacific for Lexmark, Andrew Yeong, in an interview with the source. "More and more employees rely on mobile devices to do their work. Companies, therefore, must ensure that they provide secure printing from mobile devices in order to protect their sensitive and critical information."

The push toward innovation was also underlined by the recent finding that more than 85 per cent of Thai businesses face a shortage of digital marketing talent, according to The Nation. Only 700 applications were received for 5,000 open positions in the field. The source also noted that digital marketing salaries are currently 61 per cent higher than those for traditional marketing jobs.

In Japan, unemployment reached a record low, falling to 3 per cent in July, which is the lowest rate since 1995, The Japan Times reported. Job availability held at 1.37, or 137 positions open for every 100 job seekers, during the month.

Consumer confidence in Japan has fallen, with household spending dropping 0.5 per cent in July compared to a year earlier, ETF Daily News noted.

"Overall, consumer spending remains weak as wage growth is dull," said Yoshiki Shinke, an economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, according to the source. "Households have been keeping their purse strings tight since the sales-tax increase in 2014."

Americas

September brought news of record-breaking growth for U.S. middle-class income as the job market remained steady. On the economic rebound, Peru is expected to be the fastest-growing South American economy for 2016-2017. Meanwhile, a unique market in Costa Rica has helped to create over 60,000 jobs in the country and abroad.

The Washington Post reported that in 2015, the median household income in the U.S. registered at $56,500, up 5.2 per cent from the year previous, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In percentage terms, it was the largest income growth recorded since the 1960s when the bureau first started tracking statistics for median income. This came as promising news for both the low- and middle-class, two groups that have continued to see economic disappointment over the last few decades, noted the source.

"The highest income growth was in the bottom fifth" of workers, "which is very welcome news," Economic Policy Institute president Lawrence Mishel told the source. "The fact that millions of workers have gotten a raise, as states have raised minimum wages, has definitely had an effect there."

In addition to moderate wage gains as mentioned by Mishel, economists also pointed to healthy job growth as a factor for the income gains. Though employment growth slowed slightly in August, the job market overall has remained steady.

Other promising economic news for the month was that the poverty rate experienced the sharpest drop since 1968, reported The Chicago Tribune. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of Americans living in poverty dropped by 3.5 million people. The rate marked a drop of 1.2 per cent, down to 43.1 million Americans living below the poverty line.

In Peru, the economy has been on the upswing since 2015, fueled largely by the mining industry, according to the central bank, reported Andina Editora Peru. In its recently released September Inflation Report, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru reported that the economy has held steady to its GDP growth forecast at 4 percent. If that growth continues for the year and predictions of a 4.5 per cent growth for 2017 hold true, it will be the fastest-growing economy in the region next year.

The sports fishing industry is helping to boost the Costa Rican economy, adding more than 60,000 jobs in the country and abroad, reported The Costa Rica Star. The country welcomes over 250,000 people interested in this sport each year, accounting for more than 20 percent of all tourists, according to a new market research report by Technavio that analyzed the sports fishing equipment market worldwide. In addition to generating thousands of jobs, sports fishing brings in more than $400 million each year, according to the news source.