Latest Job Stats Are Out

Unemployment in the West Midlands increased by 4,000 in the three months to January, official figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics showed that a total of 241,000 people were unemployed in the region between November and January.

The region's unemployment rate was 8.7% and saw a rise of 1.7% during the period.

Unemployment nationwide has increased for the first time in a year, delivering a pre-Budget blow to the Government.

The jobless total jumped by 7,000 to 2.52 million, ending a run of reductions, with all the increase caused by more 18 to 24-year-olds becoming unemployed.

The total is still 152,000 lower than a year ago, while the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell in February by 1,500 to 1.54 million, the fourth consecutive monthly reduction.

There were 993,000 jobless 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter to January, up by 48,000 from the three months to October, but the rise among 18 to 24-year-olds was 53,000.

The number of unemployed women increased by 5,000, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed.

Other figures revealed that public sector employment fell for the 13th consecutive quarter, by 20,000 to 5.7 million, the lowest for over a decade.

Total pay rose by 1.2% in the year to January, down by 0.1% on the previous month and less than half the rate of inflation.