Feeling SNUG?

upward-trend-3d-chart-web-res_v10_image_gw2Do you regularly use statistics and data for analysis at sub-national level? Do you have trouble finding or accessing the right information? Does the data you need exist at the geography you need it?

The Statistics User Forum, Association of Regional Observatories (ARO) and Office for National Statistics are exploring the interest in setting up a Sub-National data User Group (SNUG) to represent users of data at regional, sub-regional and local level. The group would be a place to share issues, put questions to data providers, and have a say on what works and what needs improving.

The Association of Regional Observatories are looking for volunteers to attend a brief meeting, to look at the issues that the group might address, and to shape a programme of meetings (perhaps 2 or 3 a year) which would be open to all.

So, if you have valuable experience you’d like to share, which could help highlight the issues and improve matters, they would like to hear from you.

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Call for focus on skills and innovation

Man circuit wiring at Digeprint, Warwick Science ParkThe new chairman of the Manufacturing Advisory Service West Midlands (MAS-WM), Colin Tivey, has called for a focus on skills and innovation to keep manufacturing enterprises going through the recession, and to ensure companies prosper when economic conditions improve again.

In an article published by the Birmingham Post, Mr Tivey outlined how MAS-WM is going to be providing support for the manufacturing industry in the West Midlands, with plans for immediate assistance to firms currently struggling as a result of the global downturn, and also looking to retain and develop skills and innovation for the future.
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Migrant workers mini scenarios in Wychavon

Hop field in WorcestershireWychavon District Council have produced a set of mini scenarios looking at the possible impact on the economy and local communities of changes in the numbers of migrant workers coming to Wychavon.

The new report suggests that:

…the public and private sector will have to work to attract migrants to the area in the face of stiff competition from other parts of the UK, in particular Kent and the South East. In order in particular for our farming and food production to prosper, conditions have to be attractive to potential employees.

The full report, executive summary and data appendix are available:

These new scenarios build on Wychavon’s 2004 study on the extent, size and characteristics of the migrant workforce in the Vale of Evesham (pdf, 364kb).

There is also an interview with Councillor Audrey Steel where she discusses the report’s findings, the changes in Wychavon since 2004 and how new evidence presented in the mini scenarios is helping decision making.

West Midlands unemployment rate up significantly

Peter Mandelson and West Midlands TaskforceLatest data released by the Office for National Statistics point to a significant worsening of regional unemployment rate. This is the preferred measure of unemployment as it measures the percentage of those who are economically active but unable to find employment.

The last quarter of 2008 saw the estimated rate of unemployment rise by 1.2 percentage points to 7.7%, taking the annual change up to 1.9 percentage points from 5.8% quarter 4 2007.

The increase is due to an additional 34,000 people becoming economically active but employment growth was virtually static.

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What is ‘worklessness’?

question-mark‘Worklessness’ is a fairly new term that is starting to be used and heard more frequently but what does it mean? Is it just a different word for unemployment?

The answer is that worklessness is not the same as unemployment but there are several different definitions of worklessness.

In the national indicator set of 198 indicators for Local Authorities, the indicator on worklessness (NI 152) looks at the proportion of the working age population who are claiming an out-of-work benefit—either Jobseekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefits, Income Support for lone parents or other income related benefits.

Other groups have defined workless people as those who are out of work but would like to work.

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January 2009 Local Government Association analysis and research bulletin

Local Government Association logoThe Local Government Association have published their January 2009 analysis and research bulletin (PDF, 629KB) on the key issues and developments in research relating to, or impacting on, local government.

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January 2009 briefing on the economic downturn’s impact on skills and the labour market in the West Midlands

Download January 2009 briefing (PDF, 210KB)The West Midlands Regional Observatory has produced an updated briefing, the Economic Downturn: Impact on Skills and the Labour Market (PDF, 275KB), outlining the continuing affects of the economic downturn on employment and skills levels in the West Midlands.

The latest data from December 2008 provides a more detailed picture of how the current economic conditions are impacting on West Midlands’ industries and the labour market.

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