West Midlands employment rate at a record high

By John Corser | Business | Published:

UK employment jumped to a record high in the three months to December as more women entered employment, new figures reveal.

Unemployment in the West Midlands stood at 131,000 in the three months to December

The number of people in work nationally increased by 180,000 to 32.93m in the quarter, as the number of people deemed economically inactive also shrank, the Office for National Statistics said.

For the West Midlands there were 2.82 million in work with the employment rate at 75.5 per cent – a record high and up 2.7 percentage points in a year.

The national surge in employment resulted in the highest figure on record and was higher than analysts had predicted, with a rise of 160,000 initially forecast.

Unemployment decreased during the period, falling by 16,000 to 1.29m, but the West Midlands saw a rise of 11,000 from the July to September period to 131,000. The figure was down 20,000 on the year. The unemployment rate was 4.4 per cent.

The numbers claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit, in the region for January were up 835 to 138,680 – 3.8 per cent of the working population.

In the Black Country only Wolverhampton saw a rise, up 25 to 9,760 (six per cent).

Dudley's claimant total dropped 80 to 8,210 (4.2 per cent), Sandwell was down 35 to 10,115 (five per cent) and Walsall fell by 15 to 8,010 (4.7 per cent).

Staffordshire saw a rise of 270 to 11,425 (2.1 per cent) with Lichfield up 55 to 1,245 (two per cent), South Staffordshire rising 40 to 1,285 (1.9 per cent), Cannock Chase having 35 more claimants at 1,570 (2.5 per cent) and Stafford having 25 more at 1,545 (1.9 per cent).


Wyre Forest, which includes Kidderminster, was up by 20 to 1,565 (2.7 per cent).

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: "As we embark on a new chapter as an independent nation outside the EU, we do so with a record-breaking jobs market and business confidence on the rise.

"With wages still outpacing inflation, UK workers can expect their money to go further as we look ahead to a decade of renewal.

"The upcoming Budget will steer us on that course, further driving our levelling-up agenda – so we can all share in the country's prosperity."


The ONS said the national employment figure was boosted by a "strong" rise in the number of women in full-time work, with an increase of 150,000 women in work for the quarter.

More women became self-employed during the quarter, the ONS said, as the proportion of women who are self-employed hit a record high.

The labour market also showed signs of improvement as job vacancies returned to growth for the first time in 11 months, rising by 7,000 to 810,000 for the quarter to January 2020.

However, wage growth continued to stall, slipping below analyst expectations, as bonuses fell.

Total earnings increased by 2.9 per cent in December, slowing from 3.2 per cent growth in the previous month.

In the quarter to December, the ONS also recorded the largest increase in EU-born workers in the UK since March 2017, rising by 133,000 to 2.44 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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