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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