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West Midlands has the second worst unemployment rate in the country

Published: Friday, 1st February 2019

UK unemployment at its lowest rate since the mid nineteen seventies, but the West Midlands has the second worst rate in the country.

The latest release from the Office of National Statistics covering the three months to November 2018, shows a the UK’s employment rate at a record high and unemployment at it’s lowest level since 1974/75. Less encouragingly for the West Midlands, it seems that over these three months the region’s employment rate had fallen and its unemployment rate risen. WMiC takes a look at the latest labour market statistics and picks out some of the key points.


Although the West Midlands’ employment rate had improved by 0.6% compared to November 2017, a recent fall of 1.3% has moderated what looked at one time, as being a significant improvement in a measure that has been problematic for the region. All in all, this left the West Midlands with an employment rate of 73.2%, head of only Northern Ireland and the North East. By comparison, the highest rate of over 79% was to be found in the South West, with the UK average at 75.8%.


Whereas the West Midlands was alone in posting a fall in its employment rate, it was one of six nations and regions that had a rising unemployment rate, its rate increasing by 0.5% over the three month period. These regions’ increases did not prevent the rate falling nationally, however, and at 4%, unemployment is at its lowest level since 1974/75. While unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen significantly since the financial crash, when for a time it had the UK’s highest rates, it seems the region has failed to make significant ground relative to the UK’s other nations and regions. Indeed, its latest figure of 5.2% is the second highest in the UK, behind only the North East. At the other end of the scale, the East of England and the South West had the lowest unemployment rates at 3.1%.

Workforce jobs

Looking at the estimated change in workforce jobs over the year to September 2018, the West Midlands as a whole showed a modest increase of 6,000. Clearly, better than the substantial falls recorded in the East Midlands (minus 66,000) and Scotland (minus 65,000) for example, other areas did, however, record more substantial growth. The North West added the most jobs, putting on just short of 120,000, while London added 82,000, the East of England 72,000 and Yorkshire and Humber 65,000.
Nonetheless, job creation can be volatile, these figures being quite a change from the previous year to September 2017. In this period the West Midlands had the highest job growth in the country, adding the best part of 150,000 jobs at a time when some of the current strong performers, such as East of England and Yorkshire and Humber, were losing jobs.


ONS - Regional Labour Market Statistics in the UK: January 2019, January 2019

ONS - UK Labour Market: January 2019, January 2019

ONS - Regional Labour Market Statistics, December 2009, December 2009

ONS - Regional Labour Market Statistics in the UK: January 2018, January 2018

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