Manufacturing in the West Midlands “is picking up” as unemployment falls, ministers have claimed.
Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling said manufacturing would help drive economic recovery, but warned: “Nobody ever pretended any of this was going to be easy.”
He was speaking as new figures showed unemployment was falling faster in the West Midlands than any other part of the country.
Latest unemployment figures show that 221,000 people in the West Midlands are out of work, 8.3 per cent of the workforce.
This is down by 27,000 in the past three months, and the rate of unemployment fell by one per cent.
It’s the biggest fall in unemployment in any part of the UK. But there are still tens of thousands of people out of work.
In January 2008, the region had an unemployment rate of 6.4 per cent and 172,000 people were out of work, 49,000 fewer than today.
The new figures also show that 45,891 people in Birmingham are currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, 6.9 per cent of the population aged 16 to 64.
And 10.2 per cent of the city’s men, one in ten, is on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
In Dudley, 9,457 people claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. In the Sandwell borough the figure is 12,194, in Solihull it is 4,656 and in Walsall it is 9,543.
Mr Grayling said: “The anecdotal evidence, particularly if you look at company results, is that the manufacturing sector is picking up. And certainly if you look at the figures for the West Midlands and Yorkshire, two of our traditionally strongest manufacturing areas, we are seeing significant reductions in the claimant count. All of the suggestions from this is that manufacturing is strengthening.”
The Bank of England has warned of a “choppy recovery” after downgrading its growth forecasts and predicting inflation will stay above target.