Unemployment has fallen slightly in the West Midlands – although the rate still stands at 9.5 per cent.
The number of people out of work in the region fell by 4,000, to 255,000, between January and March.
However, the unemployment rate in the region remains higher than anywhere other than the North East, where 10.4 per cent of people are out of work.
Meanwhile, the number of people on jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) across the UK unexpectedly shot up last month, official figures revealed today, as the number of women claimants hit a 14-and-a-half year high.
The so-called claimant count increased by 12,400 last month to 1.47 million, the largest increase in 16 months, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists were expecting a decline of between 4,000 and 10,000.
Across the UK unemployment fell by 36,000 in the quarter to March to 2.455 million, a rate of 7.7 per cent, down by 0.1 per cent on the quarter.
Economists warned that unemployment is likely to head up over the coming months, despite the improvement seen in today’s figures, as the Government’s austerity measures bite.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, has forecast unemployment to increase to 2.67 million by the end of this year.
He said: “We suspect that likely below-trend growth will mean that the private sector will be unable to fully compensate for the increasing job losses in the public sector that will result from the fiscal squeeze that is now really kicking in.”
The number of jobless 16 to 24-year-olds decreased by 30,000 over the quarter to 935,000.
The number of jobless 16 to 17-year-olds decreased by 1,000 on the quarter to 211,000 while the number of unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds fell by 29,000 to 724,000.