West Midlands unemployment now highest of all regions

Office for National Statistics logoLatest data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that unemployment has increased to 8.4 per cent in the West Midlands – higher than any other English region – as 36,000 more people became unemployed in the quarter from November 2008 to February 2009.

The unemployment rate has now increased by 2.4 percentage points on the same period last year, and 1.4 percentage points on the previous quarter. Employment has declined by 2.8 percentage points in the year February 2008 to February 2009 and is declining at a rate almost three times the national rate of 1.0 percentage points.

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What are the causes of worklessness?

paper_pileThe Observatory’s economic inclusion team recently posted on this site to ask for any information on the causes and dynamics of worklessness for a literature review. The completed literature review is now available.

Key findings from the review are that:

  • several groups of people are at high risk of worklessness – these include people in poor health, lone parents, some minority ethnic groups, social tenants, carers, and ex-offenders.
  • disability/poor health and low qualifications are 2 of the most common barriers to employment
  • many other barriers to employment were identified including a lack of work experience, low confidence, caring responsibilities, employer attitudes, poor public transport and the structure of the benefits system
  • several factors influence a person’s decision to re-enter employment but the longer someone has been out of work, the less likely they are to return.

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New research on economic inclusion in the West Midlands

Cover of economic inclusion baseline reportThe Observatory’s Economic Inclusion team has published a Baseline Report on Economic Inclusion (PDF, 2.16MB) pulling together regional analysis of key issues relating to worklessness, unemployment and economic inclusion in the West  Midlands.

This is the first comprehensive review of these key issues at regional level and the analysis enables consideration of the scale and distribution of worklessness problem within the region.

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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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Jobseekers allowance claimant statistics give cause for concern in Birmingham

Four of Birmingham’s parliamentary constituencies are listed amongst the five worst in the UK in terms of the proportion of the resident working-age population claiming Jobseekers allowance, according to figures for December 2008 released by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The constituencies are Birmingham Ladywood (9.9% up 1% year-on-year), Birmingham Hodge Hill (8.3% up 1.5%), Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath (8.1% up 0.9%), and Birmingham Erdington (7.4% up 1.8%).

The only constituency listed in the worst five not in Birmingham was Liverpool Walton, with a Jobseekers claimant rate of 7.4%. Wolverhampton South East was listed as having the sixth worst claimant rate of the 660 parliamentary constituencies at 7% (up 1.7%).

The BBC recession tracker provides a map of the UK illustrating these statistics, in which Birmingham can easily be seen as a Jobseekers allowance claimant ‘hot spot’.

Download the full list of statistics for all constituencies (XLS, 86kb).