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Foreign investment at record levels in Birmingham, but unemployment creeps up

Foreign investment at record levels in Birmingham, but unemployment creeps up

🕔19.May 2015

Foreign firms are beating a path to Birmingham, bringing investment and jobs with them.

The area covered by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP recorded an impressive 57 per cent increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) last year, representing 77 individual projects.

The increase, which was more than any other English region, saw 4,800 jobs created, at a rate that was twice that of the previous year, while financial benefits from the Birmingham Enterprise Zone rates uplift are likely to see that figure increase in the future.

But as impressive as Greater Birmingham’s record for attracting foreign investment is, the area’s acute unemployment problem is actually getting worse rather than better.

Jobless figures for the West Midlands rose during the first quarter of this year after falling over the previous year according to the latest breakdown from the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate for the region, which includes the GBSLEP area, stands at 6.4 per cent which is 0.9 per cent higher than the UK average.

Compare that with the East Midlands, and the difference is noticeable. Unemployment in the East Midlands is 4.9 per cent, comfortably below the 5.5 per cent average across the country.

Only Yorkshire and the Humber, Wales and the North East have higher unemployment than the West Midlands.

The employment rate, showing people in work, paints a similar picture.

Across the country as a whole 73.5 per cent of those aged from 16 to 64 were employed for the period January 2015 to March 2015.

The regions with the highest rate in Great Britain were the South West, at 77.6 per cent, followed by the South East, at 77.2 per cent and the East of England, at 76.7 per cent.

The regions with the lowest rate of people in work were the North East, at 69.3 per cent, followed by Wales, at 69.4 per cent and the West Midlands, at 71.2 per cent.

The latest figures were published as Marketing Birmingham’s ‘Business Birmingham’ team was recognised as one of the best inward investment bodies in Europe by international trade title, Site Selection.

The annual awards are judged by global foreign direct investment experts, site consultants and Site Selection’s editors. They rank all national and regional inward investment agencies across the world. The national winners for Europe were Ireland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Macedonia.

Business Birmingham was recognised for its quality of service, depth of available information and research, and knowledgeable staff. The city was also recognised for its innovative economic zones, investment into infrastructure, job creation from foreign investment and large pool of graduate talent.

Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director at Business Birmingham, said:

The hard work and commitment of our team, our partners and the business community across the region, have enabled Business Birmingham to secure and retain major companies from across the world.

Birmingham and its surrounding areas are on the cusp of an exciting period of transformation, with major projects such as HS2 set to help attract more people and investment than ever before.

It is crucial for us to capitalise on the work already underway across the region – to entice more businesses here, build on our strong results for inward investment, and help to create more jobs in the local area.

Major international firms locating or expanding in the GBSLEP area over the past year have included Indian-owned automotive giant Jaguar Land Rover which has spent over £400 million upgrading its plant in Castle Bromwich to support the manufacture of its Jaguar XF. The new Jaguar F-Pace will create 1,300 jobs at Solihull’s Lode Lane plant.

US manufacturer HydraForce is building a new factory at Birmingham’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub, creating over 200 jobs. Meanwhile, German energy firm extraenergy has located its UK headquarters in Birmingham and aims to employ 1,000 people in the city.

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