The Birmingham and West Midlands economy failed to grow at all between 2007 and 2009, according to Government statistics.
Recession, the credit crunch and mounting unemployment meant that wealth production flat-lined during the three-year period.
The figures, which are the most up to date available, show that GVA in Birmingham – a measure of economic output – was £19.6 billion in 2007. Two years later, GVA remained at the same level and had increased only marginally since 2006.
There was a similar pattern across the West Midlands region, where GVA crept up from £44.9 billion in 2006 to £45.8 billion in 2009.
Even in Solihull, regarded as the most economically active West Midlands district, GVA remained frozen at £4.3 billion between 2006 and 2009.
The figures were greeted with anger in the House of Commons, where one MP claimed some West Midlands families have had nobody in work for four generations.
Geoffrey Robinson (Lab Coventry North-west) warned that some Coventry residents were incapable of working because they had never known what it was like to have a job.
Along with fellow Coventry MP Jim Cunningham (Lab Coventry-South) he called on Ministers to bring back the Future Jobs Fund, a Labour scheme designed to cut youth unemployment which was scrapped in March. This encouraged firms in areas with high levels of unemployment to employ young people by subsidising their wages by up to £6,500, but coalition Ministers branded it a failure because half of those taking part in the scheme went back on to the dole once the subsidy ended.
Last month, the Government launched its own youth jobs fund, which includes £1 billion for wages subsidies, apprenticeships and work experience placements for 500,000 unemployed people.
Mr Robinson said: “Coventry is suffering badly with youth unemployment, and that is the most serious aspect of unemployment. Some unemployed kids are the third and fourth generation of families that have never been in work and will never get into work because they do not know what it is about. That is why the Government were so wrong to cut Labour’s scheme that was running successfully.”
He highlighted recent figures which showed that one million young people are looking for work, including 750,000 who are unemployed and 250,000 students who are looking for part time jobs and have been unable to find anything.
“That came as a shock to everyone in the country, not least the Government. They are now trying belatedly to do something about it, but unless they change their economic stance and the sheer deflationary course on which they have embarked, that will simply not happen.”
Mr Cunningham said: “I have heard a lot from young people in my constituency about their employment anxieties. One example is highly skilled medics graduating from the universities in the Coventry area and unable to find work.
“I am concerned that we are not retaining the skills in the area that are necessary to regain a balanced economy.”
There was some good news in the city, such as the success of carmaker Jaguar Land Rover and new jobs created at the Ricoh Arena, he said.
Business Minister Mark Prisk said that the economy of the West Midlands had suffered under Labour.
Referring to GVA figures showing the region’s economic output he said: “In 1975, GVA was ahead in the West Midlands – above the national average. In the first decade of this century, from 2000 to 2008, the increase in GVA per head in the region was the lowest of any part of the country.
“In Coventry, the decline is clear. In 2000, we saw GVA per head 10 points above the national average; by the time we get to 2008, it is eight points below, so there are significant challenges. Indeed, the West Midlands was the only part of the country where the number of private sector jobs fell between 1998 and 2008, so there are real underlying issues.”
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jerry Blackett agreed the figures were bad, but insisted there was hope for the future.
“For the past 30 years the West Midlands has been in constant decline, so whatever we have done in the past wasn’t working.
“With the Local Economic Partnershipss there is a better understanding of local economic conditions and better identification of priorities, ” he said.