Recession impacted unemployment numbers but long-term issues around worklessness remain

Cover of Economic inclusion annual report 2010New research from the Observatory shows the recession has led to nearly 100,000 more unemployed people in the West Midlands but long-term issues around worklessness remain.

The economic inclusion annual report 2010 (pdf, 929kb) identifies how worklessness issues in the West Midlands have changed as a result of the recession, and to what extent long-term issues remain.

In this report we particularly look at the impact of the recession on employment and worklessness in the West Midlands, and which groups of people have been most affected.

The report updates the economic inclusion baseline report (pdf, 2.3mb) published by the Observatory in March 2009, in which we examined long-term issues around worklessness in the West Midlands.

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West Midlands monthly economic update report for January 2010

The latest West Midlands monthly economic update (pdf, 414kb) is now available, updated to January 2010.

The report, published each month by the West Midlands Taskforce, summarises key trends and issues in the national and West Midlands economy.

This information is used by the Taskforce to inform partners’ responses to the downturn and to provide government ministers with updates on the key issues faced by the region’s businesses and communities.

The Observatory supports the Taskforce with data from across key sectors, as part of our work on monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Despite a positive performance in the last quarter of 2009, the Cultural Observatory’s latest recession snapshot (pdf, 311kb) suggests the West Midlands’ cultural sector is facing a period of ‘funding uncertainty’.

Evidence highlighted in the paper suggests that while many local cultural organisations remain optimistic about the short-term stability of core funding sources, perception of funding security is low compared to confidence levels pre-recession.

Spines of books on a shelf in a libraryIn the Cultural Observatory’s own economic survey with local cultural organisations, 72% of respondents stated that they were ‘less optimistic’ about the stability of core funding sources compared to 2007.

Against a backdrop of funding concerns, the research shows that the cultural sector continued to see increases in numbers of customers through the door in the last three months of 2009, building on the unusually high increase in footfall seen over the summer.

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Cultural sector recession survey – can you help?

The West Midlands cultural sector recession survey for the October–December 2009 quarter is now live.

If you work in the region’s cultural sector we’d appreciate your help in getting the word out.

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Regional gross value added (GVA) estimates for 2008 indicate the West Midlands produced below average growth

Office for National StatisticsThe 2008 Regional and 2007 Sub-Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) data (PDF, 143kb) are released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Indexed GVA per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2008 was 85.1, a marginal decrease from the revised 2007 index value of 85.4.

GVA per head in the West Midlands rose from £17,000 in 2007 to £17,500 in 2008, an increase of 2.5% compared to a 2.9% increase in GVA per head across the UK, and a 2.7% increase in England.

In the latest data for 2008 the West Midlands GVA per head is ranked seventh amongst the nine English regions. London is the strongest performer at £34,800 and the North East is the least strong at £15,900.

In total, regional GVA for the West Midlands in 2008 was £94.5bn, an increase of £2.8bn on the revised figures for 2007.

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Interactive maps help monitor recession geospatially

We’ve produced a set of interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help us to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

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West Midlands employment rate stabilises

Office for National StatisticsLatest labour market data published today by the Office for National Statistics shows that the West Midlands’ employment rate has stabilised at 70.0%.

The region’s level of unemployment has fallen by 14,000. However, this seems to be due to people becoming economically inactive rather than entering employment. Previous quarters saw many people in the region moving from economic inactivity to unemployment, mainly due to many of those who were looking after the family or home beginning to look for work, so this could represent a reversal of that trend.

The region’s rate of unemployment has fallen by 0.4% to 10.0%, but is still substantially higher than the England unemployment rate of 7.9%.

The claimant count of those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has also stabilised at 186,100, with a slight increase of 800. Continue reading

Consumers choose to spend their cash on cultural attractions when the going gets tough according to West Midlands Cultural Observatory

They said it would happen and according to research published this week by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory it is happening: the recession has caused consumers to be more selective about what cultural products and services they spend their cash on.

Evidence cited in the latest recession paper suggests that over the Spring and Summer months, people have been saving money on accommodation, but continuing to spend on visits to cultural attractions such as museums, historic houses and visitor attractions when visiting in the region.

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West Midlands ‘output gap’ has risen to £15bn

State of the Region 2009The West Midlands’ economy is less productive than the national average, and the gap is growing, according to new research released by the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

In the 2009 ‘State of the Region’ report, the Observatory has revealed that compared to the UK average, the economic output gap of the West Midlands – caused by the region’s lower economic output per head of population – has risen from a figure of £10 billion in 2005 to a current estimate of £15 billion.
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Innovating out of recession workshop summary

With innovation seen as a key way for businesses to navigate the recession, the Innovating out of Recession workshop at our Annual Conference brought together an interesting mix of speakers and delegates to discuss innovative practices, measuring innovation and how innovation may change the industrial structure of the West Midlands.

Cliff Dennett from thoughtengine, co-author of Innovation in a recession (chapter 7 in the Fit for the Future book ), kicked off a series of presentations covering a range of innovation related topics. Cliff’s presentation focussed on ways in which we can explore cost-cutting but value adding activities.
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What will be the key drivers for the West Midlands’ future? Notes from ‘Regional Drivers for the Future’ workshop at the Observatory’s 2009 conference

Chap-3_v1.0_image_ONThere was little disagreement from workshop participants with Gill Bentley‘s opening suggestion that ‘this recession is almost tantamount to war’ in terms of its impact on the region’s prosperity.

Dr Chris Upton‘s account, in chapter 1 of West Midlands: Fit for the Future? (PDF, 5.7mb), of the devastating impact that the 1790s war with France had on the region’s manufacturing industry served as a fitting backdrop for the workshop debate, which asked participants to address the question:

‘What will be the key drivers for the region’s future?’

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Cultural sector recession survey – can you help?

The West Midlands cultural sector recession survey for the July–September 2009 quarter is now live.

If you work in the region’s cultural sector we’d appreciate your help in getting the word out.

It’d be great if you could encourage any cultural venues and organisations based in the region that you are in contact with to complete the survey.

  • Surveys can be completed online
  • or  completed in Word (doc, 31kb)

Please return completed surveys to Lauren (lauren.amery@wmro.org) by Friday 16th October (thank you).

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West Midlands employment rate hits lowest level since 1993

Office for National Statistics logoThe latest unemployment data released by the Office for National Statistics today shows the West Midlands continues to be worst affected by the recession.

The employment rate in the West Midlands has fallen to 69.9%, dipping below 70% for the first time since 1993.

There are now 100,000 fewer people in employment in the region than at the beginning of 2008. The employment rate has fallen faster than elsewhere and the gap between the West Midlands and England continues to grow.

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Trade statistics highlight severity of decline in West Midlands exports during recession

HM Revenue & CustomsThe latest UK Regional Trade Estimates released by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), show that the total value of goods exported from the West Midlands decreased by 12.5% to £14,352 million in the 12 months to June 2009, compared to the 12 months to June 2008.

The West Midlands recorded the largest decrease in exports of any English region over the one year period. Statistics for individual quarters indicate that the low point of the recession so far was recorded in Q1 2009, when the total value of exports from the West Midlands was estimated at £2,998m (down from £3,893m in Q4 2008).

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Government awards grant to boost town centres

Erdington artspace exhibitionThe government is making £3 million available to help areas hardest hit by the recession find creative ways to reduce the negative impact empty shops are having on the high street.

Coventry, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall councils are each being given a grant of £52, 632.

The councils will use the grants as they see fit to boost town centres and transform empty shops into a variety of places including learning centres, meeting places or a showroom for artists.

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