Outlook still optimistic despite latest job figures - Chamber

15 February 2017

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham are remaining “cautiously optimistic” about the region’s economic outlook – despite new figures showing a rise in unemployment and a drop in employment.

Labour market statistics released today show unemployment in the West Midlands was up by 0.6 per cent from October to December, with employment falling by 1.2 per cent.

The inactivity rate – the number of people not actively in work – also increased by 0.7 per cent.

There was little movement in the national figures, with unemployment remaining unchanged at 4.8 per cent and employment seeing a slight increase of 0.1 per cent.

Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) said the new figures for the West Midlands were a result of unusually high estimates in the period from July to September.

He said: “At first glance today’s regional labour market figures look somewhat challenging with our employment rate dipping and the unemployment rate rising during the fourth quarter of 2016.

“However, in its statistical release the ONS identifies that these figures reflect their unusually high estimates in July to September 2016 for the West Midlands and that, in general, the employment rate has remained relatively stable in recent periods.

“Indeed, the results of our latest Quarterly Business Report for Q4 2016 indicate that more than a third of regional firms are seeing an increase in their workforce and that more businesses are seeking to recruit.

“The ONS also highlights in today’s report that the West Midlands saw the second largest increase of workforce jobs between June and September 2016, with 29,000 jobs being generated by the regional economy.

“All things considered, we are cautiously optimistic that today’s statistics are an outlier and that the economy is performing well. Nevertheless we will be watching the next set of labour market figures closely to confirm this.”

Businesses have the opportunity to tell GBCC how they are faring by completing the Quarterly Business Survey for quarter one.

To complete the survey click here.

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