Fewer claiming unemployment benefits in Shropshire
Unemployment in the West Midlands fell in the three months to November.
There were 127,000 out of work in the region – down 16,000 on the August to October figures. The unemployment rate was 4.3 per cent. On the year the unemployment figure was down 11,000.
Nationally unemployment increased in the three months to 1.24 million, while the number who were in work remained unchanged at 32.78m, new figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
The national unemployment rate hit 3.7 per cent, up from 3.5 per cent in the previous quarter.
The ONS said that in the latest period the number of people out of work for up to six months rose, driven by 16 to 24-year-olds.
There was also an increase in the six- to 12-month unemployment figure, but a drop in the number of people out of work for more than a year.
The number of people claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit in the West Midlands last month increased by 490 to 177,465 (4.8 per cent of the working population) from November.
In Shropshire however there was a fall. Shropshire had 45 fewer claimants at 4,520 (2.4 per cent) and Telford and Wrekin dropped by 80 to 3,950 (3.5 per cent).
In Powys the claimant total was down by 40 at 1,730 (2.3 per cent).
ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: "In the most recent three months, employment levels were largely unchanged on the previous three months.
"However, unemployment rose, driven by more young people who have only recently become unemployed, meaning overall there was a small increase in people actively engaged in the jobs market, whether working or looking for work.
"Vacancies fell again, though remaining at very high levels, with the number of people looking for work broadly in line with the number of jobs being advertised.
"The real value of people's pay continues to fall, with prices still rising faster than earnings. This remains amongst the fastest drops in regular earnings since records began."
Minister for Employment, Guy Opperman, said: “It is positive to see more people moving into jobs or taking steps to search for work.
“Helping people to secure a reliable income is a priority as we start this year. Across our Jobcentres we provide one-to-one tailored support for every jobseeker, breaking down barriers for those thinking about re-entering the workforce, such as older workers or those who have been out of work due to ill health.
“We know the challenges people are facing with the cost of living and have already provided substantial support to help with rising bills, while millions of vulnerable households will continue to be supported with up to £1,350 in additional direct cash payments over the next financial year.”
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, said of the last unemployment figures: "Today's figures show the Tories are totally bereft of ideas when it comes to tackling the cost-of-living crisis, growing the economy and supporting people into work.
"Real wages are plummeting, almost two-and-a-half million people are out of work because of sickness and far too many people – especially the over-50s – aren't getting the support they need to either stay in work or to go back to work."
Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chamnbers of Commerce, said: “Today’s figures will come as no surprise to businesses up and down the country who are desperately trying to fill record numbers of vacant roles.
“With over 1.16 million job vacancies, businesses are still experiencing a relentlessly tight labour market. If firms can’t hire the staff to fulfil their order books, any room for growth is extremely limited.
“Government is heading in the right direction with its plans to help bring economically inactive workers back into the labour force, especially older workers who left in their droves when lockdown ended.
“But we need to see more action. There must be carefully tailored careers advice, job seeker support and rapid re-training opportunities to help employers harness the skills and experience of older workers."
Matthew Percival, the Confederation of British Industry’s director for people and skills, said: “The continued evidence of younger and older workers returning to employment is welcome news. There are early signs of softening in the labour market, but many businesses are still struggling to hire and record pay growth is not yet easing the cost of living crisis.”
“The Government needs to pull every lever to ease shortages and strengthen the case for the business investment that is needed to drive growth and living standards. This means helping more people to overcome the barriers like the cost and availability of childcare or ill-health that are preventing them from working, and updating the Shortage Occupations List."