ONS article investigates economic productivity in urban versus rural areas

Office for National Statistics logoContrasts in the economic productivity of urban versus rural local authorities, and the factors contributing to the varying performance of the economies of English regions, are both the subject of an article in the latest edition of Economic & Labour Market Review.

The article in the ONS publication takes a detailed look at Gross Value Added per filled job (GVA per job) statistics for groups of local authorities in each English region, using DEFRA classifications (PDF, 52kb) which group local authorities according to their urban/rural composition characteristics.

In the West Midlands region and among the six local authority classifications, ‘Major Urban’ local authorities (for example, Birmingham) were found to be the most productive, with GVA per job averaging an indexed value of 90.4 (where England=100) for 2004 to 2006. However, this represented a noteworthy decline from the value of 95.8 recorded in 2001 to 2003.

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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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Mental ill-health is a growing cause of unemployment in the West Midlands

Mental health and employment report coverA new report, Mental Health and Employment in the West Midlands (PDF, 483kb) by the West Midlands Regional Observatory highlights the growing problem of mental ill-health in the region.

Following the Economic Inclusion Baseline Report for the West Midlands (PDF, 2.16mb) published in April 2009, which found mental ill-health to be one of the biggest causes of worklessness in the region, our new report focuses on the issue of mental health and employment.

The report provides information and statistics on the links between mental health problems and employment issues within the West Midlands, as well as reviewing recent research and policy options aimed at overcoming employment barriers.

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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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Survey on destinations of graduates from higher education

Graduates at Birmingham UniversityThe Destinations of leavers from higher education longitudinal survey (PDF, 2.02mb) is a new report published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The survey aims to examine what graduates are doing three years after graduation. Questionnaires were completed by graduates who left university in 2004/05 on a range of subjects including their activities during November 2008.

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New report on innovation in a changing economy

BMW hams hall

In difficult economic times, firms need to adapt if they are going to survive. Innovation is particularly important at such times. However, as the economy changes to one increasingly dependent on services then so must our view of innovation.

One of the Observatory’s new State of the Region thematic reports, The Importance of Innovation in a Changing  Economy (PDF, 685kb), looks at how innovation can continue to drive change in the economy of the future.

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Developing a high growth knowledge economy in the West Midlands

Laboratory at Micropathology Ltd, Warwick Science ParkKnowledge intensive industries rely on innovation and knowledge to gain competitive advantage and, although the sector has grown rapidly in recent years, the West Midlands has struggled to attract these activities.

Through a state of the region dialogue on the West Midlands’ knowledge economy (pdf, 383kb), the Observatory has identified a range of actions to address this, developed and agreed by a range of policy makers, researchers and academics.

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