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Job Loss Headlines Mislead Says Chamber

High profile job losses are drawing attention away from the fact that the labour market is working well in Coventry and Warwickshire, say analytical experts at The Chamber.

"The unemployment figures paint a healthy picture for the third month in a row, despite all talk of collapsing confidence and fears of a recession,"

said a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise.

"While unemployment in the West Midlands as a whole edged upwards, our area continues to see a steady decline.

"The reality is that there are now around 7,000 fewer jobless than the last rosy time, in 1990. And the total for Coventry and Warwickshire of 14,378 compares with nearly 45,000 at the height of the last 'bust' period in 1993.

"More important, there is now a vacancy for three out of four seeking jobs."

Last month the jobless figure fell by 5.6 per cent, while vacancies rose by nearly a quarter (24.5 per cent).

Coventry and all the county districts recorded fewer jobless, and only Stratford-upon-Avon failed to show an increase in vacancies. Warwick has the biggest jump in jobs, up by 3 8 per cent.

There are 3,641 vacancies in Coventry and Warwickshire, the highest for 12 months.

The Chamber analysts point out the figure represents only new vacancies reported to Job Centres, commonly accepted to be only a third of the likely total, and exclude long standing openings.

"Our experts calculate that there are therefore around 11,000 vacancies, versus the 14,378 jobless figure.

"We are not saying that everything in the garden is lovely. Despite two interest rate cuts totalling 0.75 per cent, our rate still compares with a likely 3.3 per cent right across Europe when the common currency starts on January 1.

"This inevitably has a knock on effect on the value of the pound, making export orders hard to get.

"It should not need saying, but future confidence can change as rapidly as the weather. Certainly in our area there is still no evidence of a rapid slowdown. "

Warwickshire's unemployment rate is now down to three per cent, and Coventry down to 5.3 per cent, making an average for city and county of 3.5 per cent. The UK remained at 4.6 per cent and the West Midlands average rose to 4.7 per cent.

Despite the tightness of the labour market, the proportion of long term unemployed continues to cause concern, The Chamber's quarterly report shows.

It now stands at 46.7 per cent of the total, compared with a national average of 45.6 per cent.

"For two years from October, 1995, through to October, 1997, we were below the national average,"

The Chamber spokesman said.

"Since then we have slipped consistently behind. "

Ageism may be the cause. All the older age groups over 30 increased their share of long term unemployed. All the younger age groups, except the 16 to 17-year-olds, recorded a decreased proportion.

District Figures:



New Vacancies

+ / - Actual + / - Actual
Coventry - 516 7,789 + 451 1,933
Rugby - 77 1,149 + 62 346
North Warwickshire - 29 766 + 8 110
Nuneaton and Bedworth - 69 2,055 + 111 500
Stratford -75 980 +40 301
Warwick - 87 1,639 + 125 451


MORE INFORMATION:  Barry Lloyd-Jones   01203 654260

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CWN / Business / The Chamber / 13 Nov 1998

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