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Sharp drop in West Midlands jobless figures

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

There has been a dramatic fall in the unemployment figure for the West Midlands new figures reveal today.

Unemployment has fallen by 10 per cent in the West Midlands over the last few months

The number of people out of work in the region in the three months to July was down 15,000 on the previous quarter - a drop of 10 per cent - according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

And the latest figure of 134,000 is down by 30,000 on the same period a year ago – a drop of 18.4 per cent.

At the same time the number of people in work across the West Midlands has risen by 1.3 per cent to almost 2.8 million.

Nationwide, the number of people in work has continued to rise while average earnings have grown slightly faster than inflation, official figures show.

UK employment increased by 3,000 in the three months to July to 32.4 million, giving a rate of 75.5 per cent, according to the ONS.

Workers also benefited as average earnings increased by 2.6 per cent in the year to July, up from 2.4 per cent the previous month.

The latest consumer prices index (CPI) rate of inflation was recorded at 2.5 per cent.

It came as unemployment fell by by 55,000 over the period to 1.36 million, giving a jobless rate of four per cent. Regionally, London has the highest rate, at 4.7 per cent, followed by the West Midlands at 4.6 per cent.

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But the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits, such as Jobseeker's Allowance and elements of the new Universal Credit, has risen from 906,100 in July to 919,000 last month. This is partly due to the increasing roll-out of Universal Credit around the country.

Across the West Midlands region the claimant count was up 1,460 to 102,675, or 2.8 per cent of the working population. The national claimant rate is 2.2 per cent.

Dudley saw the biggest rise in the Black Country of 115 to 7,545, or 3.9 per cent of the borough's working population. Wolverhampton, which has the highest rate of 5.1 per cent, was up by 100 at 8,230.

There were falls in Walsall of 70, to 4,980 (2.9 per cent) and Sandwell of 35, to 7,415 (3.7 per cent).

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Staffordshire's claimant count rose by 185 to 7,040, or 1.3 per cent, with Stafford up 40 to 850 (one per cent), South Staffordshire rising 25 to 955 (1.4 per cent) and Cannock Chase up by 10 at 835 (1.3 per cent).

Lichfield's figure stayed the same at 785, or 1.3 per cent.

The Wyre Forest district, which covers Kidderminster, claimant numbers were down by 15 to 970, or 1.6 per cent).

Job vacancies, meanwhile, rose 14,000 on quarter to 833,000, a record high.

ONS head of labour market statistics David Freeman said: "With the number of people in work little changed, employment growth has weakened.

"However, the labour market remains robust, with the number of people working still at historically high levels, unemployment down on the year and a record number of vacancies

"Meanwhile, earnings have grown faster than prices for several months, especially looking at pay excluding bonuses."

The number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those on long-term sick leave, taken early retirement, or who have given up looking for work, rose 108,000 on quarter to 8.76 million in the last three months, giving a rate of 21.2 per cent.

The number of self employed workers decreased by 46,000 to 4.8 million.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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