Observatory economic inclusion team update: May 2010

Here’s a roundup of recently published work from the Observatory’s economic inclusion team and upcoming research to look out for over the next month.

Recently published research

Dynamics of worklessness

At the beginning of April we published this research looking at the extent to which individuals are moving in and out of the labour market, entering work for short but unsustained periods, and/or making repeated benefit claims.

You can read more about this work or download the report (pdf, 468kb). Here are some of the key findings.

The West Midlands has high rates of worklessness and there’s also a large number of people who, when employed, are unlikely to sustain employment in the long term:

  • 12.5% of those in employment at any given time will experience a period of worklessness over the course of a year
  • Two thirds of workless people in the West Midlands are long-term or continually workless
  • 9% of the working age population in the West Midlands are likely to switch between employment and worklessness over the course of a year

Fewer people in the region remained in employment throughout the course of a year than nationally. More people were workless for the whole year than nationally.

Some key demographic groups are at increased risk of worklessness, and long-term worklessness:

  • People from non-white ethnic groups and people with health problems are likely to be subject to long-term exclusion from the labour market. Both of these groups are more likely to be long-term workless in the West Midlands than nationally.
  • People with no qualifications are more likely to be subject to long-term worklessness than people with qualifications. Also, in this region, the proportion of people with no qualifications who are long-term workless is higher than nationally.
  • Those whose highest qualification is at level 2 have higher levels of job instability than other people – nearly one in five of them moved between employment and worklessness in a year, higher than the national average.

Among claimants of unemployment benefit there are significant movements on and off the benefit:

  • 75% of claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance claim for less than 6 months, but 69% have made a previous claim
  • Gaps between claims are often short, with 23% of claimants having had a previous claim less than 4 weeks previously

On-going projects

Research on the impact of demographics on the risk of worklessness

This is an important and innovative piece of work looking at people’s chances of being workless.

We know that there are several risk factors for worklessness, such as being in poor health or belonging to a minority ethnic group, but less is known about how these risk factors interact – or what the chances of being workless are for people having multiple risk factors.

This research will show the effects of a range of demographic factors on a person’s chances of being workless and will be able to isolate the effects of each factor (and combinations of two risk factors) so we can see which are the most important. It will also compare risks in the West Midlands with the rest of England.

We’re planning to hold an event in early July to share this research – we’ll post details on this blog and the events calendar on wmro.org. The report will be published in the next couple of weeks.

Economic inclusion annual report

This report will update our baseline report (pdf, 2.2mb) published in March 2009. We’ll look at whether the issues identified in the baseline report are still important today or whether the economic recession means that new issues around economic inclusion have emerged.

Importantly, we’ll look at whether the impact of the recession has been felt equally accross all parts of the West Midlands and by all groups or whether some people have been more affected than others.

We’ll also look at whether the problems of long-term worklessness which we previously identified, particularly the large numbers of people claiming Incapacity Benefit, remain.

This report will be published on wmro.org in the next few weeks.

To read more about the work of the economic inclusion team, visit our economic inclusion web pages.

This is the third post in a new series of weekly Observatory research updates; one post from a different research team each week. We’re doing this in response to feedback we received in our recent website user survey. Please do get in touch with any feedback.

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