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May: Employment up; City jobs hit by credit crunch; no pat on the back for risk-taking managers

Employment up
Despite the crunching of credit, the number of people in employment has
increased by 0.3% to 75.1% for the first three months of the year, according to
the Office for National Statistics. This quarter’s stats also show the number of
vacancies has increased on last quarter’s figures by 1,600 from 676,900 to
678,500, an increase of 59,700 on the same period last year.

City exodus
Overall employment looks good, but figures released by finance recruitment
consultancy Manpower Professional show there has been a significant drop in the
number of companies that expect their total employment to increase. Companies
expect a 9% increase in total employment in Q2 2008 – down 50% on the same
period last year.

City exodus II
The Centre for Economics and Business Research has forecast that 19,000 jobs
“reliant on the City” will be lost to the credit crunch in 2008 and a further
8,000 will go in 2009. CEBR added that 2007 levels of employment were unlikely
to be fully recovered until 2012. “We expect the credit crunch to have a greater
impact on the City than the dotcom crash,” said CEBR senior economist Dominic

Profit warnings rise
The number of profit warnings issued by UK listed companies has soared to 114 in
Q1 2008, the highest first quarter numbers since 2001 and an 11% increase on Q1
2007. The highest warning FTSE sectors were retail and support services. Ernst
& Young’s restructuring partner Andrew Wollaston said it was “reasonable to
expect more of the same, if not worse, for the rest of 2008”.

IMF doom
The International Monetary Fund has predicted that potential losses from the
sub-prime market crisis could reach $945bn or higher as other sectors, such as
commercial property, are affected. Its 2008 global stability report suggested
that banks and inadequate government regulation were the main culprits of the
credit crunch and warned the effects were far worse than previous downturns
because of the level of securitisation and leverage in the financial system.

Risk not rewarded
A survey of more than 2,000 finance executives by Microsoft and the Economist
Intelligence Unit has found that while risk taking is considered a key
responsibility for the finance function, companies do not tend to reward
individuals who do it. The study found 54% of respondents believed risk-taking
by middle managers should be rewarded, but only 22% said this happens in their
company. Two-thirds said that risk-taking by senior executives should be
rewarded but only 44% agreed this happened at their company.

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