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Region bucks employment growth trend

By James Pugh | Business | Published:

The West Midlands has bucked the national trend by delivering continued growth in employment during the last quarter.

Andy Street

According to new job figures from the Office for National Statistics, employment in the region rose by 0.7 per cent from July to September – despite falling by 0.1 per cent nationally.

Unemployment fell by 0.5 per cent to 4.1 per cent but still remains well above the national average of 3.8 per cent.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am delighted that the West Midlands has seen the largest employment rate increase across the whole of the country, particularly when you consider that the UK rate has actually fallen.

“With record numbers in work and unemployment down, the West Midlands continues to buck national trends as our economic revival gathers pace.

“However plenty of challenges remain, and I look forward to working with employers to address these and to make sure the West Midlands continues to create record numbers of jobs that are filled by local people.”

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce say recruiters are still facing difficulties because of ingrained skills gaps.

The West Midlands’ inactivity rate also fell by 0.3 per cent despite the national rate rising by 0.1 per cent.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “At a national level, while although employment remains historically high, this quarter’s results may indicate that the labour market is finally seeing the impact of sluggish economic growth and ceaseless political uncertainty.

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“At a regional level the West Midlands bucked the national trend to deliver continuing growth in employment – albeit from a lower base.

“However, unemployment remains above the national average in the West Midlands and ingrained skills gaps are contributing to recruitment difficulties for local businesses.

“In the third quarter of this year, our Quarterly Business Report found that 59 per cent of firms in the region attempted to recruit, 57 per cent of which faced recruitment difficulties.

“With apprenticeships in decline and many employers unprepared for upcoming supply-side interventions such as T Levels, stakeholders must work harder to alleviate local skills gaps.”

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Meanwhile, national wage growth continues to rise above inflation – annual growth in average weekly earning is 3.6 per cent – which is adding to increased cost pressures businesses are facing.

Mr Faulkner added: “This week is Living Wage Week. The Chambers are ourselves a proud living wage employer, and will soon be adopting the new hourly rate along with many other local businesses.

“Nationally, wage growth has been rising above inflation since March 2018. While positive for employees, rising cost pressures remain a concern for businesses facing the effects of an uncertain political and economic climate.”

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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