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Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 15:00 UK

Youth unemployment

Nick Watson
Nick Watson
Politics Show West Midlands

Thousands of young people will be leaving school, college and university this summer - but instead of heading into jobs many of them will be joining the dole queue.

Is there evidence that there are green shoots of recovery emerging in the Midlands? Colin Pemberton investigates.

Back in the recession of the early 1980s the Birmingham reggae band UB40 had a hit single with "One in Ten" - a bleak piece of social commentary about the raging unemployment of the time.

Already this recession has seen the jobless figure exceed the numbers Ali Campbell and co sung about all those years ago, among young people at least.

One in ten

The 18-24 year-old age group have been hit particularly hard by the downturn in the West Midlands region with the Prince's Trust reporting more than 50,000 young people out of work.

Our region's most vulnerable youngsters will be permanently damaged by the downturn unless they receive the support they need
Kathy Williams, Prince's Trust

With unemployment up again this week that figure looks set to rise sparking fears of a lost generation of people having their lives ruined by lack of opportunities and economic misery.

A statistic, a reminder of a world that doesn't care - as UB40 put it.

"Our region's most vulnerable youngsters will be permanently damaged by the downturn unless they receive the support they need," said Kathy Williams, Regional Director for the Prince's Trust in the West Midlands.

Disadvantaged youth

"There are thousands of disadvantaged young people in the West Midlands who are in need of our support and this will only increase unless we help the young people into jobs," she added.

Job Centre emplyment search
Job opportunities - in short supply at Job Centres

Worst hit areas include Wolverhampton where 14% of the city's 18-24 year-olds are claiming benefits and Birmingham where the figure is 13%.

Added together these two areas alone have seen an extra 4,300 young people claiming job seekers allowance in the last 12 months alone as the economy has hit the rocks.

Deprived areas

Both Stoke-on-Trent and Dudley also have unemployment rates in this age range at 11%.

Areas such as Worcester and Shrewsbury have also seen the youth jobless rate double during the last year.

A report published by The Prince's Trust and ESRC Centre for Giving and Philanthropy predicts that the figures will rise with young people from in deprived areas hit the hardest.

"Vulnerable young people will suffer where the need is greatest as youth charities struggle to keep up with the demand during the recession," said Professor Cathy Pharoah of the Cass Business School.

Read the Rethinking Recession report below:

Green shoots?

There has been a lot of talk about green shoots of recovery appearing recently.

But given these set of statistics, the fact that the West Midlands has the highest rate of unemployment in the country (9.3%) and the recent closure of LDV it is difficult to be too optimistic.

LDV vans lined up at the company plant in Washwood Heath, Birmingham
LDV vans lined up in Birmingham before the plant's closure

In fact the five areas with the highest unemployment rates are all here - Birmingham Ladywood topping the list with 11.2%.

This is followed by Birmingham Hodge Hill (10.5%), Birmingham Sparkbrook (9.4%), Birmingham Erdington (9.2%) and Wolverhampton South East (9.1%).

And these figures do not even include those who are losing their jobs at LDV.

Dark days ahead

While there may be some green shoots appearing in some sectors of the economy, there are still dark days ahead.

It certainly seems a little early to be declaring the end of the recession in this part of the world just yet.

Quite how this plays out politically remains to be seen but the portents for Labour do not look good.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown reflects on Labour's dark days

They were soundly beaten into third place in both the local and European elections - in the case of Europe they were beaten by the UK Independence Party.

Labour will take crumbs of comfort from the fact that they topped the Euro polls in Birmingham, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

Elsewhere they face a real struggle to hold on to Westminster seats and by definition their House of Commons majority.

The Politics Show for the West Midlands, with Jon Sopel and Michael Collie, Sunday at 11:00 on BBC One

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