Brexit 'hitting jobs market as hiring confidence plunges in strong Remain areas'
The jobs market is being hit by Brexit, with hiring confidence "diving" in parts of the UK which strongly supported remaining in the EU, a study reveals.
Employers in six out of nine sectors surveyed reported a falling outlook for jobs, said employment group Manpower.
Its survey of over 2,100 firms showed that confidence in private firms about taking on new staff has fallen to its weakest level in three years.
The worst-hit areas are London and Scotland, with the capital said to be the least optimistic region in England for the first time in three years.
Small companies are being hit by a raft of measures including pension changes, the living wage and business costs, said Manpower.
The group also reported continued concerns about a shortage of skilled workers, which it warned could hit flagship construction projects.
Mark Cahill, ManpowerGroup's UK managing director, said: "The impending trigger of Article 50 is clearly affecting confidence in the jobs market.
"The private sector plans to hire at its slowest rate since 2014, with only construction, manufacturing and transport and communications planning to hire at previous levels.
"The employment rate is at its highest level since records began in 1971, but if you lift the bonnet to look at the engine of the economy, job creation has slowed and employers are becoming more cautious.
"The companies which have powered Britain's economy through the immediate post-referendum period are easing off the gas."
He added that construction, healthcare and finance industries have relied on EU workers and are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of Brexit, with some rushing to hire staff before the "talent drawbridge" is pulled up.
Minister for employment, Damian Hinds, said: " Leaving the EU presents huge new opportunities and we are focused on getting the best deal for the UK. The message is clear that Britain is open for business.
"The fact is our employment market is in a position of strength. We are one of the fastest growing major economies and there are more people in work here than ever before."