The West Midlands is one of the worst places in the country to grow up poor.
That’s the conclusion of a major Government-backed study into social mobility.
Social mobility means the chance people have of improving their situation. It can include whether people growing up in a low-income household have a chance of going on to get a well-paid job.
But it also covers things like being the first in your family to go to university, or buying your own home when you grew up in rented accomodation.
The Social Mobility Commission’s “State of the Nation” report warned that social mobility is much better in some places than others.
It identified “hotspots”, where social mobility is good, and “coldspots”, where it was poor.
But the Commission, chaired by former Labour politician Alan Milburn, concluded: “London dominates the hotspots, while the East and West Midlands are the worst performing regions.”
The region’s hotspots are Bromsgrove, Lichfield and Solihull.
In other words, those are places with relatively high levels of social mobility, meaning people born in less wealthy families have the best chance of improving their situation.
But places with very low levels of social mobility include Cannock Chase, Dudley, Sandwell, Herefordshire, Walsall, Worcester, Tamworth, Nuneaton and Bedworth, North Warwickshire, Wyre Forest and Wychavon.
Birmingham and other parts of the West Midlands were in the middle.
The study found that the West Midlands has below-average outcomes during early years and primary school and slightly below-average outcomes for young people and working-age people.
The good news is that the region has relatively good GCSE results and high levels of university entry for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But the situation varies depending on where you live.
The report said: “Educational outcomes vary widely across the area, partly due to the mix of rural areas and post-industrial cities, such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry.
"On the whole, the urban areas surrounding Birmingham rank in the top third of the country (due to very strong education outcomes), while sparsely populated areas, such as Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, fall in the bottom third.”
And life is hard for many working-age people.
The report said: “In working lives, the West Midlands recently replaced the North East as the region with the worst unemployment rate in the country – due largely to Birmingham, which has the lowest employment of any area in the country.
“It also has below-average pay and below-average levels of skilled jobs. Indeed, 26 per cent of residents earn less than the voluntary living wage, the third lowest rates of the regions.
“The Midlands is the only part of the country with rising unemployment – and the increase is particularly worrying in the West Midlands – up from 16 to 20 per cent since 2015.
“However, the region does outperform in terms of home ownership and affordability of housing, though home ownership for families falls to just over 50 per cent in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.”
Low pay is connected to the lack of top jobs in the region.
“In Wolverhampton and Sandwell, for example, just one in five people works in a professional and managerial job.”
The study had some good news - as it suggested that the HS2 high speed rail line coming to Birmingham would boost the economy.
It said transport schemes such as HS2 and Crossrail in London “can have wide-ranging benefits for people from all backgrounds in the regions they affect.”
And it continued: “The impact of HS2 in the West Midlands region has been valued at £4.4 billion.
“This includes employment forecasts for Birmingham estimating an additional 29,000 jobs created by 2026, with more at the start of HS2. Many of these will be high-skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs.”
And there was some praise for the effort of local councils and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to improve things.
The report said: “Looking forward, the region’s metro mayor and six Local Enterprise Partnerships are working on transport, skills, housing and economic improvement efforts.
“Investment is focusing on improving local transport links to get the most out of HS2, as well as on house building and business innovation.”