'150,000 London Jobs to Go This Year' ; Warning as Merrill Announces Massive Cull in City

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A SAVAGE downturn in the London economy will destroy almost 150,000 jobs in the capital this year, according to a new forecast.

The recession will hit London worse than any other region of the country because of its dependence on the City and other professions such as the law, advertising and consultancy.

The warning came on yet another day of heavy job losses and grim economic news. Investment bank Merrill Lynch and its new owner Bank of America are preparing to axe about 1,900 staff in one of the biggest single culls in the history of the City.

Meanwhile, official figures showed the trade gap widening alarmingly last month to its biggest deficit since records began in 1697.

The stark new prediction on jobs from the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggests London's GDP will shrink by 3.4 per cent this year compared with a national decline of 2.9 per cent. By the end of the year more than 147,000 jobs will have been lost, the think-tank says.

Alarmingly, there will be a further 1.1 per cent slide next year with a loss of 81,000 jobs, it adds.

CEBR economist Jorg Radeke said: "Given London's exposure to financial and business services it should be no surprise that it will be the worst-hit region." Banks in the City and Docklands have laid off tens of thousands of staff since financial meltdown was triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September.

The combined Merrill Lynch and Bank of America group is looking to shed 30 per cent of its workforce in London with many staff being told to reapply for their jobs last week.

Merrill employs 4,500 in its European headquarters at St Paul's, while Bank of America has 1,700 working in the capital. …