Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have called on the Government to address "structural deficiencies" in the regional economy after the latest job figures revealed employment in the West Midlands fell by 0.7 per cent.
Labour market figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed a drop in the region's employment rate to 71.7 per cent - in stark contrast to the national figure which has reached its highest level since 1971 at 74.6 per cent.
Although unemployment in the West Midlands remained unchanged at 5.7 per cent, the region's inactivity rate saw a 0.8 per cent increase to 23.9 per cent.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner said: "Whereas the national statistics show employment levels reaching a level not seen since the early 1970s, the regional numbers paint a different picture.
"In the West Midlands, the employment rate fell slightly, the unemployment level stayed the same and inactivity rates saw a slight increase.
"The region has made good progress in reducing its unemployment rate in recent years and it’s vital that this progress does not stall.
"Now more than ever, we are calling on the Government and stakeholders to effectively tackle long standing structural deficiencies within our regional economy by investing in infrastructure, addressing skills shortages and boosting the productivity of our staff.
"Only then will we start to see long term prosperity delivered to the West Midlands and an overall rebalancing of the national economy.
"In spite of these mixed results on employment, our latest Quarterly Business Report reveals local business confidence is at its highest level in almost three years."