Jobless numbers rise again in West Midlands
Unemployment in the West Midlands has risen again despite a fall in the number out of work nationally.
The number unemployed in the region was up 5,000 – or 3.2 per cent – for the three months to December to 151,000, a rate of 5.2 per cent of the working population.
In the UK record numbers of people are now in work and job vacancies are at their highest level ever, new figures have revealed.
Average earnings increased by 3.4 per cent in the year to December, the highest for a decade, outpacing inflation.
Employment increased by 167,000 in the three months to December to 32.6 million, the highest since records began in 1971, and unemployment fell by 14,000 to 1.36 million, 100,000 lower than a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said.
Numbers claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit rose by 2,565 across the West Midlands last month to 110,075 (three per cent of the working population.
Sandwell was up 395 to 7,485 (3.7 per cent), Walsall increased by 220 to 5,920 (3.5 per cent) and Wolverhampton had 80 more claimants at 8,645 (5.3 per cent). Dudley bucked the trend with a fall of 80 to 7,590 (3.9 per cent).
Staffordshire's figure was up 470 to 7,535 (1.4 per cent) with Cannock Chase up by 110 to 945 (1.5 per cent). Stafford rose by 80 to 895 (1.1 per cent), South Staffordshire increased by 20 to 965 (1.4 per cent) and Lichfield had 15 more claimants at 910 (1.5 per cent).
Wyre Forest, which includes Kidderminster, had 1.025 claimants (1.7 per cent), up 70 on December.
The UK's jobless rate is now four per cent, down by 0.3 per cent on a year ago, and the lowest since 1975.
The number of economically inactive people fell by 94,000 in the latest quarter to 8.6 million, a rate of just under 21 per cent, the lowest on record.
Vacancies increased by 16,000 to a record high of 870,000.
Minister of State for Employment Alok Sharma said: "While the global economy is facing many challenges, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, these figures show the underlying resilience of our jobs market - once again delivering record employment levels.
"Our pro-business policies mean we have started the new year with a strong labour market, with wages outpacing inflation for the 11th month in a row, and more people in work than ever before. It's also excellent news that we see the rate of women in employment at a record high.
"Of course, we need to ensure that we continue to provide one-to-one support for anyone whose jobs may be at risk, or who might be looking to move to a new role."