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Unemployment falls again in the West Midlands

By James Pugh | Business | Published:

Unemployment in the West Midlands was down again for the three months to May.

The total stood at 140,000 – 5,000 lower that in the previous three months to February.

Nationally, unemployment fell by 51,000 to 1.29 million in the period, the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show.

The West Midlands unemployment rate at 4.8 per cent remains ahead of the UK rate of 3.8 per cent, the joint lowest level since the end of 1974.

Employment remains near record highs in the UK, with higher numbers of working women contributing to the strong labour market.

Employment was up by 28,000 in the three months to May to 32.75 million, with the West Midlands contributing 2.78 million.

The employment rate for women remained at a record high, while levels of economic inactivity among women between the ages of 16 and 64 reached a record low of 25.3 per cent due to changes in the state pension age.

Meanwhile, the number of self-employed part-timers hit a new high of 1.52 million.

The number claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit in the West Midlands rose by 3,905 to 128,850, or 3.5 per cent of the working population.

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Sandwell saw the claimant count rise by 420 to 8,910, or 4.4 per cent of the working population, with Walsall up 390 to 7,250, or 4.2 per cent of the working population.

Wolverhampton's claimant count increased by 75 to 9,380, or 5.8 per cent of the working population, while Dudley had a rise of 150 to 8,015, or 4.1 per cent of the working population.

Staffordshire's claimant total was up 410 to 9,730, or 1.8 per cent of the working population, with Cannock Chase seeing a rise of 70 to 1,320, or 2.1 per cent of the working population, South Staffordshire unchanged at 1,105, or 1.6 per cent of the working population, Stafford having 95 more claimants at 1,280, or 1.6 per cent of the working population, and Lichfield 35 more at 1,060, or 1.7 per cent of the working population.

For Wyre Forest, which includes Kidderminster, there were 110 more claimants at 1,390, or 2.4 per cent) of the working population.

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Matt Hughes, deputy head of labour market statistics at the ONS, said: "The labour market continues to be strong, with the unemployment rate still at a near-record high and unemployment down again.

"The number of self-employed part-timers has passed one and a half million for the first time, well over double what it was 25 years ago."

Total earnings, which includes bonuses, were up 3.4 per cent compared with 3.2 per cent in the previous month.

Stripping out bonuses, the growth rate for regular pay was 3.6 per cent, up from 3.4 per cent in the three months to April.

"Regular pay is growing at its fastest for nearly 11 years in cash terms, and its quickest for over three years after taking account of inflation," said Mr Hughes.

The boost to the National Living Wage in April, which is 4.9 per cent higher than the 2018 rate, provided a lift for wages.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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