region despite its declining importance across the nation, according
to a feature on the region published in Labour Market Trends* today.
The West Midlands had the highest proportion (27 per cent) of
a national average of 18 per cent and contributes a high proportion of
the nation's GDP.
However the report shows there was still a 10 per cent fall in the
number of employees in manufacturing in the region between March 1987
and 1997, although this drop was less than the national average of 16
'Spotlight on the West Midlands' also shows that according to the
Labour Force Survey in Winter 96/97, 18 per cent of economically
active people in the region held no qualifications, the highest
proportion in Great Britain. The national average then was 14 per
This picture was echoed in previous quarters when LFS figures showed
the West Midlands was above the national average for numbers of these
people with no educational qualifications.
The article is the third in the Spotlight series.
*Labour Market Trends (incorporating Employment Gazette) Volume 105
For subscriptions and sales telephone 0171-873 8499 FAX 0171-873 8222
The West Midlands Government Office Region (GOR) includes the
counties of Hereford and Worcester, Shropshire, Warwickshire and West
Midlands and the former county of Staffordshire.
After London, the West Midlands metropolitan county is the second
most densely populated county in the UK, with around 3,000 people per
Today's overall labour market picture there is one of gradual, but
steady recovery, an improvement on a few years ago.
The labour force in the region is projected to increase by four per
cent between 1996 and 2006, compared with five per cent in the UK as
a whole. The ongoing trend of an increasing number of women in the
labour force is expected to continue, with a projected rise of eight
per cent in the region over the decade - similar to the UK.
A total of 2.3 million people aged 16 and over were in employment in
the region in Spring 1996, according to the LFS.
Trends over the past decade show there has been a structural shrft
from manufacturing to services both regionally and nationally. Even
so, the region had the highest proportion of employees in
manufacturing in the country in September 1995 with 27 per cent in
the sector compared to a national average of 18 per cent, according
to the Annual Employment Survey.
Concentrations in manufacturing varied in local authority districts
from 10 per cent in Solihull, Shrewsbury and Atcham to 41 per cent in
In the region's service industries there was a 19 per cent increase
in the number of employees over the decade to March 1997 topping the
national rise of 16 per cent.
Numbers of women aged 16 and over in employment rose by 11 per cent
in the region, while the number of men increased by one per cent
between Spring 1986 and 1996, compared to the corresponding picture
for Great Britain of 13 and two per cent respectively.
In the last couple of years the region has experienced one of the
highest percentage decreases in the number of claimants in the
country and for the past year the claimant rate has been lower than
the UK average.
The seasonally adjusted claimant count rate in the region for May
1997 was 5.7 per cent close to the national average then of 5.8.
The number of unemployed under the ILO measure*(See Background Note
1.) in the region in Winter 1996/97 was 182,000 (not seasonally
adjusted) which was down 18 per cent over the year, one of the
largest falls nationwide, compared to a 10 per cent fall for the UK.
At 7.1 per cent, the ILO unemployment rate in the region in Winter
1996/97 was 16.4 per cent slightly under the GB figure of 16.6.
Average gross weekly earnings of full-time employees in the region
were£324,£28 less than the Great Britain average of£352, according
to the 1996 New Earnings Survey.
For men, average gross weekly full-time earnings in the region were
£360 compared with a national average of£391. The regional figure
for women was£257,£26 less than for Great Britain.
1. The ILO measure of unemployment is based on the internationally
recognised standard definition of unemployment recommended by the
International Labour Organisation, an agency of the United Nations.
2. It includes all those who were without a job at the time of the
survey was conducted, who were available to start work in the next
fortnight, who had actively looked for work in the last four weeks or
had found a job and were waiting to start.
3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data, including
a description of the release categories featured on the front page of
ONS releases, are available from the press office.
4. Crown copyright 1997. ONS First Releases and statistical new
releases are subject to Crown copyright protection. Data and text may
be reproduced without fee, provided use is for genuine news gathering
and distribution purposes. Headline figures and short extracts may
also be quoted in support of commentary or criticism. All other
reproduction (especially for commercial use) requires specific
copyright perrnission from the ONS and payment of reproduction fee,
or must be the subject of a commercial agreement that includes such