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Unemployment falls in the West Midlands

By John Corser | Business | Published:

The number of unemployed people in the West Midlands fell by 3,000 in the three months to March to 149,000.

Fewer people were out of work in the West Midlands in the three months to March

Nationally the figure was down by 65,000 to 1.3 million with the UK's unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent now lower than at any time since the end of 1974.

For the West Midlands the rate stood at 5.1 per cent, with the percentage in work at 73.9 per cent.

Across the UK the number of people in work continues to reach near record levels as fewer women retire between the ages of 60 and 65, although vacancies fell back in recent months, new figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal.

Employment jumped by 99,000 in the three months to March, to 32.7 million, the third highest total since records began in 1971.

Unemployment across the region

In the West Midlands the unemployment figure was up 10,000 on the same three-month period in 2018.

For April numbers claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit, across the region were up 3,070 to 123,030 – 3.4 per cent of the working population.

In the Black Country, Dudley was the only area to see a fall of 20 to 7,860 (4.1 per cent). Sandwell had the biggest rise of 230 to 8,160 (four per cent), with Walsall up by 205 to 6,685 (3.9 per cent) and Wolverhampton rising by 85 to 9,145 (5.6 per cent).

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Across Staffordshire claimant numbers rose by 360 to 9,065. Cannock Chase had a rise of 110 to 1,195 (1.9 per cent) and Stafford increased by 90 to 1,145 (1.4 per cent). Lichfield was up 25 to 1,020 (1.7 per cent) and South Staffordshire up by 10 to 1.055 (1.6 per cent).

In Wyre Forest, including Kidderminster, the number claiming also rose by 95 to 1,260 (2.1 per cent).

'We're creating opportunies' - minister

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: "Maintaining our record employment rate with unemployment falling again to just 3.8 per cent, its lowest rate since 1974, once again shows the success of our balanced approach to managing the economy.

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"Rising wages and booming higher-skilled employment means better prospects for thousands of families, and with youth unemployment halving since 2010, we are creating opportunities for all generations.

"We now need to shift some of our focus to up-skilling people and supporting them into roles with real career progression to create a modern workforce fit for the challenges of the 21st century."

Average earnings increased by 3.2 per cent in the year to February, compared with 3.5 per cent on the previous month.

There was a 98,000 increase in the number of EU nationals working in the UK in the first quarter of the year to a record high of 2.38 million.

Since the EU referendum in June 2016, the number of EU nationals working in this country has increased by 237,000.

Other figures showed that the number of economically inactive people in the UK fell by 23,000 in the latest quarter to 8.6 million - a rate of just under 21 per cent, one of the lowest on record.

The number of vacancies fell by 16,000 to 846,000.

The UK's employment rate of 76 per cent is at a joint record high, while for women it has reached the highest on record at 71 per cent.

The increase is partly due to changes in the state pension age for women, resulting in fewer retiring between the ages of 60 and 65, the ONS said.

The number of people in work has increased by 354,000 over the past year, entirely due to full-time employment.

Part-time working fell by 18,000 to 8.5 million, while self-employment increased by 180,000 to just under five million.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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