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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 July.

The total stood at 122,000 – 12,000 lower than in the previous three months to April.

Meanwhile, the rate of unemployment nationally is at its lowest in 45 years, driven by a record low in the percentage of women who are unemployed.

The number of people out of work dropped 11,000 to 1.29 million for the quarter, as the rate of unemployment stayed flat at 3.8 per cent, lower than predicted by analysts.

The West Midlands unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent remains ahead of the UK rate.

Meanwhile, the rate of employment in the UK has hit a record high as workers' wages continue to surge higher.

The number of people in work rose by 31,000 to 32.78 million in the three months to July, the Office for National Statistics said.

But the growth in employment fell below analyst expectations, which had forecast a 55,000 rise.

The employment figure for the West Midlands was £2.8 million.

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The number claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit in the West Midlands rose by 2,460 to 132,840, or 3.6 per cent of the working population.

Sandwell saw the claimant count rise by 290 to 9,525, or 4.7 per cent of the working population, with Walsall up by 230 to 7,650, or 4.4 per cent of the working population.

Wolverhampton’s claimant count increased by 40 to 9,650, or 5.9 per cent of the working population, while Dudley had a rise of 140 to 8,195, or 4.2 per cent of the working population.

Staffordshire’s claimant total was up 330 to 10,335, or 1.9 per cent of the working population, with Cannock Chase seeing a rise of 90 to 1,390, or 2.2 per cent of the working population, South Staffordshire an increase of 45 to 1,210, or 1.8 per cent of the working population, Stafford a rise of 55 to 1,335, or 1.6 per cent of the working population, and Lichfield 25 more at 1,105, or 1.8 per cent of the working population.

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For Wyre Forest, which includes Kidderminster, there were 10 more claimants at 1,475, or 2.5 per cent of the working population.

Nationally, job vacancies continued to tumble, however, falling 23,000 to 812,000 during the period, stoking fears of an economic slowdown.

Vacancies were at the lowest level since November 2017, driven by declining job openings at small firms, the ONS said.

Average earnings, which include bonuses, had the fastest rate of growth since May 2008 as they increased by four per cent compared with 3.8 per cent in the previous month.

David Freeman, head of labour market statistics for the ONS, said: "The employment rate has remained fairly constant at a joint record high for some months now, while the unemployment rate was last lower at the end of 1974.

"Vacancies continue to fall back from recent record highs, with much of this decline coming from small businesses.

"Including bonuses, wages are now growing at four per cent a year in cash terms for the first time since 2008.

"Once adjusted for inflation, they have now gone above two per cent for the first time in nearly four years."

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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