Dudley MP Ian Austin has warned that the Black Country is being left behind on tackling unemployment.
The MP welcomed recent falls in unemployment but raised concerns that the gap between the Black Country and the rest of Britain was widening with long-term youth unemployment in the region now at three times the national average.
The latest figures from January show that 1.2 per cent of 18-24 year olds in the Black Country have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over a year, compared to 0.4 per cent nationally. Long-term youth unemployment in the region has remained at least twice the national average in every month since 2010.
Total unemployment in the Black Country is almost twice the national rate at 3.7 per cent of the working age population compared to 2 per cent nationwide.
Austin has said that the figures show the need for investment in education, apprenticeships and jobs in the Black Country, and has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith calling for new measures to tackle the problem.
Ian Austin said:
“I welcome the news that unemployment has fallen and celebrate every new job created in the Black Country, but these figures are really concerning.
“The Black Country is being left behind with unemployment falling more slowly than in the rest of Britain.
“I think this shows that we need to make education and skills the number one priority in Dudley if we’re going to attract new jobs and investment.
“I want to tackle the problem with a Jobs Guarantee to put young people who have been unemployed for over a year into work and guaranteed apprenticeships for every school leaver that gets decent qualifications.”