Unemployment increases in Shropshire
The West Midlands, including Shropshire, has seen a dramatic fall in the number of people out of work, while figures for those in employment have surged in recent months.
The jobless rate in the region fell from 5.5 per cent to five per cent over the three months, as the number out of work fell by 12,000 to 143,000. It reverses a recent trend of rising unemployment statistics in the region.
The number of people in work in the West Midlands leapt by 34,000 over the quarter, to 2.72 million.
Latest unemployment figures nationwide have seen the number in work hit a record high, rising 55,000 in the three months to February to 32.2 million – the highest figure since records began in 1971.
Unemployment fell by 16,000 to 1.42 million, the lowest in more than a decade, giving a jobless rate of 4.2 per cent, the lowest since 1975, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Despite the encouraging drop in general unemployment, the amount of people in the region claiming unemployment benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance and the unemployment element of Universal Credit, has risen. Nationally the claimant count also increased by 11,600 last month to 855,300 – the highest for more than three years.
In the West Midlands the claimant count soared by 2,835 to 95,615. The jump is thought to be a statistical anomaly and comes because of the increasing roll-out of Universal Credit across the region.
The Shropshire Council area saw an increase of 80 more claimants compared with the previous month, taking the total to 2,425, meaning 1.3 per cent of the workforce was receiving jobless benefits.
In Telford and Wrekin, there were 70 more claimants, making its total 2,090. This represents 1.9 per cent of the workforce.
In Powys, the amount of claimants remained 785. This represents one per cent of the workforce.
Nationally, earnings have grown slightly above inflation for the first time in almost a year. Average earnings increased by 2.8 per cent in the year to February, unchanged on the previous month and the highest since September 2015.
Matt Hughes, senior ONS statistician, said today's figures show that the job market in Shropshire and the wider West Midlands remains relatively buoyant.
He said: "The labour market continues to be strong and, for the first time in almost a year, earnings have grown slightly after inflation has been taken into account."
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those on long-term sick leave, on early retirement, or who have given up looking for work, fell by 2,000 to 8.7 million in the latest quarter, giving a rate of 21 per cent, a joint record low.
Job vacancies remained unchanged at 815,000, while the number of self-employed workers fell for the second successive quarter – down by 18,000 to 4.76 million.
Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said: "Another milestone for employment has been reached under this Government as employment reaches a record high, up 3.2 million since 2010 – the 16th time the employment record has been broken in the same period.
"That means, on average, over 1,000 people have moved into work every day since 2010, and credit has to be given to the businesses who have created those jobs and the individuals who are taking those opportunities.
"Day by day we are helping people turn their lives around by getting into employment. Jobs are key to transforming lives and work is the best route out of poverty.
"And this month we have again increased the personal allowance and taken more people out of paying tax altogether, making sure people can keep more of what they earn."