Shropshire Star

Unemployment rises in West Midlands as national rate remains unchanged

The West Midlands saw a rise in unemployment in the three months to January but figures were still significantly down on the same time last year.

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Unemployment figures are out

The unemployment rate now stands at 4.5 per cent and the number of unemployed, according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics, stands at 132,000 compared to 131,000 in the three months to December.

The rate is, though, still down on the same time last year when 149,000 people were unemployed across the West Midlands.

Nationally, Britain’s unemployment rate has remained unchanged, but there are further signs of cracks in the jobs market after official figures showed a fall in vacancies and an increase in redundancies.

The ONS said the national rate of unemployment stood at 3.7 per cent in the three months to January, unchanged from the previous three months.

The figures also showed there were 220,000 days lost to strike action in January, down from 822,000 in December, with schools the hardest hit.

The data revealed a 51,000 drop in the number of job vacancies to 1.2 million, while the redundancy rate edged higher.

Pay also remained under pressure despite declining inflation and a 6.5 per cent in increase in regular wages, excluding bonuses, though this was slower than the 6.7 per cent rise in the previous three months.

With Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation taken into account, real regular pay fell by 3.5 per cent.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the Office for National Statistics, said: “Recent trends have continued, with a slight rise in employment, especially among part-timers.

“Detailed figures from our business surveys also show record numbers of jobs in several sectors, including law and accountancy firms, health, and pubs and restaurants.

“In addition, the number of people neither working nor looking for a job fell overall, driven by a drop in young people.

“However, a record number of people were completely outside the labour market due to long-term sickness.

“Although the inflation rate has come down a little, it’s still outstripping earnings growth, meaning real pay continues to fall.”

Figures for those claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit, rose to 178,355 in the West Midlands in February.

The figure – 4.8 per cent of the working population – was compared to 176, 215 the previous month.

In Shropshire, there were 4,590 people (2.4 per cent of the working population) claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit, compared to 4,550 previously.

For Telford & Wrekin, the number was 4,030 ( 3.5 per cent) compared to 3,950.

And in Powys, the number was 1,770 up from 1,735 (2.3 per cent).

Wolverhampton saw the number of claimants rise to 12,465 from 12,295 (7.6 per cent of the working population) and Sandwell saw numbers at 13,510, up from 13,465the previous month.

Dudley was down 20 to 9,280 (4.7 per cent) and Walsall rose by 35 to 9,645 (5.6 per cent of the working population).

In Birmingham, claimant figures stood at 61,385, up from 60,780 in January.

Overall, in Staffordshire, the number of claimants rose by 300, to 15,000 (2.8 per cent of the working population).

Stafford, figures up to 2,100 from 2,040 (2.5 per cent of the working population).

Claimants in Lichfield were down by 30 to 1,545 (2.4 per cent) while in south Staffordshire remained at 1,770 (2.7 per cent).

In Cannock Chase, there was an increase of 35 claimants, moving it up to 2,115 (3.4 per cent).

Tamworth’s claimant figures stand at 1,680 (3.4 per cent).

In the Wyre Forest, including Kidderminster, the number of claimants remained the same at 1,930 (3.3 per cent).