UNEMPLOYMENT was a driving force behind the vote to quit the European Union in the west Midlands, according to a new report published yesterday.
The government has turned parts of the region into Britain’s biggest “employment blackspot,” says the Resolution Foundation.
The area now has the lowest employment rate — 64.5 per cent — of any major urban region, said the think tank.
Young people, those of ethnic minority backgrounds and low-qualified workers are suffering particular problems finding work, according to the report.
And rising levels of long-term unemployment should be considered a priority ahead of the region, which used to be regarded as the “engine room” of the nation, as it prepares to elect its first metropolitan mayor in May, the foundation said.
Policy analyst Conor D’Arcy is calling for more investment in Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country. He said: “The West Midlands’ terrible record on job creation has created a huge employment blackspot and was a key factor behind its overwhelming vote to leave the EU.
“Whitehall should recalibrate its flagship Midlands engine project to supporting the new mayor in overseeing a long overdue jobs boom across the west Midlands.
“This approach will be particularly important for those struggling to find work such as young people, those with poor qualifications and the region’s large BAME (black and ethnic minority) population.
“A jobs-rich recovery would also ensure that the whole region benefits from rising living standards.
“Its strong record on getting young people into university shows that there is plenty of potential for the new mayor to harness.”