How is the Rural Regeneration Zone doing?

This post shares key findings from our annual monitoring report on the Rural Regeneration Zone (RRZ) carried out over 2009 and 2010.  The final report will be published shortly.

Impact of project work

Since the RRZ was set up, the area has improved in many ways.  So far 1,400 new jobs have been created and 800 existing jobs have been safeguarded.  More jobs are expected to be created (1,500) and safeguarded (200) by 2015.

RRZ investment in multi-use facilities has also improved access to services.  The main improvements have been around:

  • Childcare provision – 845 more places each week
  • Volunteering opportunities – 165 more places
  • Library services – 37,700 more library projects
  • Development of new services – 98 new or enhanced services in towns and villages

Projects such as Connections to Opportunities, Rethink and Care Farming are delivering further improvements in the RRZ.  More details are included in the report.

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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.

Related links

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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MG Rover workers: what happened next?

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)The Birmingham Business School at the University of Birmingham obtained funding from the Economic and Social Research Council to conduct the study Ex-MG Rover workers: 3 years on (PDF, 989kb).

The study consisted of a  survey of 204 ex-workers conducted via telephone in April 2008, along with in-depth interviews of 30 workers and 30 local and regional practioners and policy makers.

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How the Observatory is monitoring the recession

Up and down arrows on wood chippingsThese are difficult times for the West Midlands. The recession is having a major impact on our people and our businesses.

In response, we have been involved in a range of analysis of current conditions and trends to inform the West Midlands Taskforce and other regional partners.

At the moment, we are producing a series of regular monitoring reports. These include contributions to the monthly economic briefings for the Taskforce, quarterly bulletins on the impact of the recession on the region’s population, skills and the labour market and the cultural sector.

We’ve also started publishing a regional analysis of the latest monthly unemployment figures. Continue reading

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

Briefing coverThe West Midlands Regional Observatory has produced its third quarterly briefing monitoring the impact of the economic downturn on skills and the labour market.

The overall picture is one of continued decline but with the first tentative indications of some improvement. This is reflected in the decreases in the rate of job losses expected, at least in the service sector.

It is also notable that over 60% of firms are maintaining their investment in training budgets at present levels.

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Impact of economic downturn on Herefordshire

Herefordshire PartnershipJust over a week ago, the Herefordshire Information and Research Network held a seminar on the effect of the current economic downturn on Herefordshire.

Presenters at the seminar included Gill Swaithes of Herefordshire Council’s Research Team and Phil Vallely from JobCentre Plus.

For those not at the seminar, the presentations are available from Herefordshire’s website. The presentations provide a useful insight into how the developing downturn is impacting employment, housing, tourism and crime.

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Your health and the economic recession

Logo: West Midlands Public Health ObservatoryIt is not a surprise that the current crisis has hit our wallets, but have you thought about the implications that this may have on your health?

Every day the media delivers rather pessimistic news around unemployment going up, more companies going bust, redundancies and future job losses.

The contraction of our disposable income combined with the gloomy picture we perceive generates fear, stress and concerns that can result in a diverse range of health issues ranging from obesity to mental and cardiovascular diseases.

In order to avoid considerable harm to the health across the region, the West Midlands Public Health Observatory (WMPHO) brought together local and health authorities from all over the region to discuss how to face this major issue.

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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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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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Black Country recession updates

bc-recession-reportOur colleagues at the Black Country Observatory have produced the first Black Country Recession Intelligence report.

These reports are being produced on a monthly basis by the Observatory as part of  a ‘Black Country Recession Intelligence Group’ comprising of representatives from the Black Country Local Authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships. The reports aim to provide real-time evidence as a background to policy debate in the sub-region.

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Survey of West Midlands’ businesses indicates deepening economic downturn

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and IndustryThe latest survey results from the region’s Chambers of Commerce point to a further worsening of the business environment.

The Quarterly Economic Survey results for the 3 months to December 2008 highlight the difficult trading conditions faced by businesses in the West Midlands.

The situation has deteriorated for both manufacturers and service providers. Key findings for the West Midlands are:
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The economic downturn – impact on skills and the labour market

November 2008 economic downturn briefing paperOur November 2008 briefing paper on the Economic Downturn, produced by WMRO’s Skills team, examines how the current economic climate is affecting the West Midlands in terms of skills and the labour market as a whole.

Here are the key headlines for quarter 3 of 2008:

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