West Midlands Weekly Economic Impact Monitor – 23rd October 2020

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This week we include the dashboard of indictors monitoring the economy. As would be expected, they reflect the current pandemic circumstances. Deaths from coronavirus are on the rise for the first time since May. Youth claimant counts are relatively stable but stand at 44k or 8.9% of 16-24 year olds (21k more than pre-pandemic). All claimants over the age of 16 stands at 214k (6.4% of the adult population) and 97K more than March. PMI business activity index has dropped slightly to 58.5 after rising to 61.9 but it is still in expansion; future business is maintaining its high score of 67.8. The region continues to have the highest levels of apprenticeship vacancies of all combined authority areas and unique job postings are continuing to increase for the third month in a row to 101k, but still are not at pre-pandemic levels. Quarterly Exports stands at £27.5bn, 8.7% of the UK, but have decreased by 18% over the year 2019-2020.

Key issues
  • Global coronavirus cases have now surpassed the 40 million mark.
  • Ireland has returned to a national lockdown, closing non-essential stores, bars and restaurants for at least six weeks. People have also been urged to stay within five kilometres of their homes. Europe’s outbreak has continued to spread at an alarming rate, with daily case records in Germany, Greece and the Netherlands.
  • Wales has imposed a “fire break” lockdown, closing non-essential retailers and requiring its population to stay at home for two weeks. Scotland has also confirmed an extension of its central belt closure of pubs and bars. The Sheffield City-region has entered Tier 3, as has Greater Manchester, following publically controversial talks between local leaders and central government.
  • The annual Birmingham Economic Review, produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, has been published.
  • 53% of manufacturing firms will be using the new Job Support Scheme from November, to support subsidised part-time working.
  • 71% of firms are not stockpiling inventory ahead of the final exit from the EU and the potential for ‘no deal’.
  • For the three months ending in August 2020, the West Midlands region employment rate (aged 16 – 64 years) was 74.5%.
  • For the three months ending in August 2020, the West Midlands Region unemployment rate (aged 16 years and over) was 4.6%, which has decreased by 0.4 percentage points since the previous quarter.
  • For the three months ending in August 2020, the West Midlands Region economic inactivity rate (aged 16 – 64 years) was 21.8% – an increase of 0.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.
  • There were 43,985 youth claimants in the WMCA (3 LEP) area in September 2020, this is an increase of 970 people when compared to September 2020.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its annual State of Care report where it warns that Covid-19 is magnifying inequalities and ‘risks turning fault lines into chasms’.
  • Overall national footfall for the week ending 11th October 2020 increased to around 70% of its level in the same period in 2019.
  • At a regional level, the latest weekly data when compared to the previous week shows the largest increase in footfall was in the South West while there was a moderate decrease in Northern Ireland. The South West also has the highest level of footfall when compared to the same period in 2019, while the lowest levels were seen in Wales, Scotland and Greater London.
  • There were 18,420 incorporations in the week ending 9th October 2020; this is above the incorporations recorded in the same week as 2019 which was 13,259.
  • Regional level analysis shows that in the West Midlands the overall registered death figures increased from 1,045 in the week of 2nd October to 1,053 in the week of 9th October. The number of registered deaths related to Coronavirus increased from 31 to 43 over the same period.
  • While the car continued to be the main way to travel, there was an increase in the proportion of travelling by public transport. There was a decrease in the proportion of walking/cycling. The increase in public transport use was noted for all journey purposes, particularly work trips, and was noted amongst car owners and non-car owners.

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The weekly monitor brings together data and intelligence from the WM REDI partnership into one single source which can be shared and utilised in planning and responding to the challenge of the virus. This is a rapid review of the issues. It is not intended to be a comprehensive assessment but rather a practical report which places emphasis on emerging issues and the best data and intelligence we have to date.

The monitor is feeding into the regional recovery planning that can help the regional economy bounce back and quickly move forward once lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.

The work is being endorsed by political and business leaders a task force of experts are being set up through WM REDI partners to better understand the impact of the lockdown and what measures will be needed to get the economy moving again.


City-REDI / WM REDI have developed a resource page with all of our analysis of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the West Midlands and the UK. It includes previous editions of the West Midlands Weekly Economic Monitor, blogs and research on the economic and social impact of COVID-19. You can view that here.


This blog was written by Rebecca Riley, Business Development Director, City-REDI  / WM REDI, University of Birmingham.

Disclaimer: 
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham.

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