Months of rising unemployment have finally come to an end in the West Midlands after the jobless figure fell by 1,000 in the last quarter.
The total number of people out of work in the region in the quarter to January stood at 241,000, down from 242,000 the three months before.
The fall in unemployment in the region – which leaves it with a jobless rate of 9.1 per cent – came as the UK-wide figure increased to a near 17-year high of almost 2.7 million.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance increased for the 12th month in a row, up by 7,200 in February to 1.6 million, the worst figure since the end of 2009.
But the number of people in work increased by 9,000 in the quarter to January to 29.1 million, while the 28,000 increase in unemployment was the lowest for almost a year.
Other figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that public sector employment fell by 37,000 in the final quarter of 2011 to just under six million, while the numbers employed in private firms increased by 45,000 to 23 million.
Public sector employment has fallen by 270,000 in the past year following the Government’s spending cuts.
Local government employment fell by 33,000 in the last three months of 2011, central Government by 3,000 and Civil Service by 9,000.
Youth unemployment increased by 16,000 to reach 1.04 million, a jobless rate of 22.5 per cent, while the number of unemployed women jumped by 22,000 to 1.13 million.
Average earnings increased by 1.4 per cent in the year to January, down by 0.5 per cent on the previous month.
In the public sector the figure fell from 1.7 per cent to 1.3 per cent, the lowest since comparable records began in 2001.
The number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 110,000 to 1.3 million, the highest since records began in 1992.
Part-time employment rose by 60,000 to 6.6 million, while self-employment fell by 52,000 to just over four million.
The unemployment rate is now 8.4 per cent, up by 0.1 per cent from the previous quarter, the highest since the end of 1995.