Local impact of public sector job cuts featured on BBC Politics Show

Andy Phillips interviewed for BBC Politics Show

In advance of the government’s spending review announcement on Wednesday 20 October, the BBC Politics Show West Midlands discussed the impact of public sector job losses in the West Midlands.

They interviewed Andy Phillips, Head of Skills Research at the Observatory, and featured our recent briefing paper which examines the local impact of public sector job cuts (pdf, 351kb).

The story is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for the next six days.

Unemployment in West Midlands levels off

Job Centre PlusThe labour market figures released September 2010 show a mixed picture for the West Midlands, with increases in employment and decreases in unemployment, but evidence of a slowing of the recovery.

The claimant count reduced by just 600 out of 159,700, and the unemployment rate remained steady at 8.4%.

Worryingly, unemployment and the claimant count seem to be levelling off at a higher level than they were prior to the recession. With the impact of cuts in public spending yet to be seen, this could mean any knock-on effects in the form of future rises in unemployment could wipe out the recovery seen so far.

Key headlines

Unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen again, but the rate of decrease is slowing. There are 226,000 unemployed people in the West Midlands – 13,000 fewer than last quarter, and 58,000 fewer than a year ago. However, in order to return to the July 2008 level of 163,000, we would need to reduce the number of people unemployed by a further 63,000.

The number of people in employment rose by 38,000 over the last quarter. However, there are still fewer people in employment than prior to the recession, and those working part-time now make up a greater proportion of those in employment.

The claimant rate saw a very small decrease of just 600 this month.

Overall the indications are that the falls in unemployment are beginning to level off. Furthermore, the upcoming public sector cuts and the knock-on effects in the private sector are likely to result in renewed increases in unemployment.

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Unemployment in West Midlands fallen but still not back to pre-recession levels

Updated monthly data on the West Midlands labour market were released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Key headlines

  • Unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen — by 66,000 people over the last year, and 27,000 people in the last quarter. There are, however, 59,000 more unemployed people in the West Midlands than in February 2008.
  • Unemployment has fallen faster in the West Midlands than anywhere else in the country over the last year and in the last quarter. However, unemployment rose more sharply here than elsewhere earlier in the recession, so essentially this is a rebalancing of employment levels.
  • We’re not out of the woods yet. Employment levels have not yet reached their pre-​recession levels, and we’re expecting a significant loss of public sector jobs in the coming months, which could wipe out the recent drop in unemployment altogether.

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West Midlands sees large fall in unemployment

The latest regional labour market statistics (zip, 2.9mb), released by the Office for National Statistics, show a large quarterly fall in the unemployment rate in the West Midlands, down 23,000 people to 230,000 (8.6%) in the quarter to May. This is the largest fall of any English region.

Unemployment in the West Midlands rose sharply at the beginning of the recession and peaked in April to June 2009 at 284,000 people or 10.5% – the highest unemployment rate of any English region.

Since then, unemployment here has fallen, whereas other regions have continued to see a rise. The West Midlands now has the fourth highest unemployment rate of English regions.

There’s also been a fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, the unemployment benefit. The number of claimants in the West Midlands fell to 159,800 in June, a fall of 2,800 people. This is a smaller decrease than in previous months but is 24,800 claimants fewer than the peak in October 2009.

Within the West Midlands, nearly all local authorities have seen a fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance over the last year. The biggest decreases have been in areas like Cannock Chase and Redditch which saw large increases in Jobseeker’s Allowance rates at the beginning of the recession.

Our interactive map shows how Jobseeker’s Allowance rates differ between local authorities.

The fall in unemployment has been accompanied by a rise in employment. The employment rate in the West Midlands is now 71.2% with 31,000 more people in employment than in the previous quarter.

Nationally the rise in employment was largely due to a rise in the number of part-time workers. Data on part-time workers at regional level is only available up to September 2009 (national data are for the quarter to May 2010) but does show that the number of part-time workers in the West Midlands increased during the recession even though the number of people in full-time employment fell.

More information on changes to the labour market during the recession are available in our economic inclusion annual report 2010 (pdf, 929kb).

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Recession impacted unemployment numbers but long-term issues around worklessness remain

Cover of Economic inclusion annual report 2010New research from the Observatory shows the recession has led to nearly 100,000 more unemployed people in the West Midlands but long-term issues around worklessness remain.

The economic inclusion annual report 2010 (pdf, 929kb) identifies how worklessness issues in the West Midlands have changed as a result of the recession, and to what extent long-term issues remain.

In this report we particularly look at the impact of the recession on employment and worklessness in the West Midlands, and which groups of people have been most affected.

The report updates the economic inclusion baseline report (pdf, 2.3mb) published by the Observatory in March 2009, in which we examined long-term issues around worklessness in the West Midlands.

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Upcoming event: multiple risk factors of worklessness

Cropped section of a chart showing different factors affecting individual's chances of being out of work

We’re hosting an event on 6th July to share the findings and implications of our recent research looking at how a person’s background and personal characteristics affect the individual’s chance of being out of work.

The report, Worklessness in the West Midlands: the impact of demographics and multiple risk factors (pdf, 545kb), looks in depth at the impact of several ‘risk factors’, in isolation and in combination with each other:

  • Being a young person (aged 16–24)
  • Being an older person (aged 55 to retirement)
  • Being from a black, Indian or Pakistani or ​Bangladeshi ethnic group
  • Having a long-​term health problem or disability
  • Being a lone parent
  • Having no qualifications

The analysis will help decision makers get a greater understanding of the complex interplay of issues behind the current high rate of worklessness across the West Midlands.

The event takes place at the West Midlands Regional Observatory offices (get directions), 8:45–11:00am, 6th July 2010.

It’s free to attend, though please register as places are limited.

  • Event agenda (pdf, 94kb)
  • Book online (requires registration)
  • Download a booking form (doc, 45kb)

Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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Latest labour market data shows slight improvements for the West Midlands

Office for National StatisticsThe latest labour market statistics released today by the Office for National Statistics are the most positive for many months.

In the West Midlands, the employment rate has increased slightly and unemployment and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants have both fallen slightly.

The employment rate in the West Midlands is now 70.3% (August-October 2009) , up from 70% in the previous quarter.

There are 22,000 more people in employment than in the three months to July 2009.

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Interactive maps help monitor recession geospatially

We’ve produced a set of interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help us to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

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West Midlands employment rate stabilises

Office for National StatisticsLatest labour market data published today by the Office for National Statistics shows that the West Midlands’ employment rate has stabilised at 70.0%.

The region’s level of unemployment has fallen by 14,000. However, this seems to be due to people becoming economically inactive rather than entering employment. Previous quarters saw many people in the region moving from economic inactivity to unemployment, mainly due to many of those who were looking after the family or home beginning to look for work, so this could represent a reversal of that trend.

The region’s rate of unemployment has fallen by 0.4% to 10.0%, but is still substantially higher than the England unemployment rate of 7.9%.

The claimant count of those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has also stabilised at 186,100, with a slight increase of 800. Continue reading

Unemployment rates in Worcestershire: August 2009

Two people at entrance to Malvern Hills science parkWorcestershire County Council’s research and intelligence unit publish a monthly round-up of employment fact and figures.

These statistics are broken down by wards and districts, and also show the picture for the whole of Worcestershire in comparison to the West Midlands.

Highlights from the August 2009 summary (PDF, 713kb) include:
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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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Community and voluntary sector organisations receive grants to help deprived communities

Real help for communities logoTwo voluntary sector organisations located in Telford and Wrekin and Stoke-on-Trent have been awarded part of a £15 million grant to assist communities hardest hit by the recession.

The targeted support fund, part of the government’s action plan for real communities, is providing 558 voluntary and community sector organisations with grants between £10,000 and £40,000. The grants are to help organisations assist those communities that have been severely impacted by the recession through a range of services related to information and guidance, health and wellbeing and employment.

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Further rise in unemployment in the West Midlands

Office for National Statistics logoUnemployment in the West Midlands reached 285,000 in the three months to June 2009, the highest level since 1994.

Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show that the unemployment rate in the West Midlands is at 10.6%. This is still the highest rate of all the English regions.

The West Midlands continues to be the region hardest hit by the recession and has seen the biggest increase in unemployment of all the regions.

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