Unemployment is again higher in the West Midlands than any other part of the country despite 17,000 fewer people in the jobless queue.
The unemployment rate in the region now stands at 9.5 per cent, according to the latest statistics.
The news came despite a UK-wide fall in unemployment, and a huge cut in the numbers claiming jobseeker’s allowance.
The so-called claimant count across the country was 1.59 million in February after a fall of 32,300, the biggest monthly reduction since the end of 1997.
Total unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, was down by 33,000 over the quarter to January to 2.45 million, the lowest for almost a year, and the biggest three-monthly fall for almost three years.
However, 254,000 people are now out of work in the West Midlands. The unemployment rate of 9.5 per cent is equal to the North East, and higher than the next-highest area Wales, where unemployment is at 9.2 per cent.
Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The fall in unemployment for the third month in a row is very welcome, but we should remain cautious. We’re not out of the woods yet and we are still determined to do more to support jobs and help the unemployed this year.
“The figures show the investment in jobs, education and training places is making a real difference. Half a million fewer people are out of work than anticipated at the time of last year’s budget - saving over £10 billion as a result.”