Riot hotspots linked to surprise job search findings
Job prospects in many of the cities at the centre of the riots that have swept the UK are worse than in some of the remotest parts of the country, according to research co-authored by Associate Professor Ralf Wilke from the Nottingham School of Economics.
A study of regional unemployment reveals it is harder to find work in London and Birmingham than in rural areas or even northern Scotland’s most isolated districts. Inner London East, Inner London West, Outer London West/North East and Birmingham have the worst-performing labour market conditions in the country.
The findings emerged in research by the Nottingham School of Economics into how regional labour markets influence the prospects of job-seekers around Great Britain.
Study co-author Dr Ralf Wilke said: “The locations of the riots of the past few days are highly correlated with our results.
“We set out to answer a simple question: if you take very similar or identical Job-Seeker’s Allowance claimants, where will they find new work the quickest? We don’t simply compare local unemployment rates, as this ignores the different composition of unemployed people across regions. Surprisingly, we find that large cities such as London and Birmingham provide worse local labour market conditions than rural and even remote regions. We would suggest this finding is important from a policymaking point of view, as the likelihood is that many people traditionally believe the reverse situation is true.”
Based on more than 187,000 individual unemployment periods, the research drew on data from sources including the Joint Unemployment and Vacancies Operating System (JUVOS) and the Department of Work and Pensions. Using the National Statistics Postcode Directory, this information was mapped to the geography of the UK to identify the spatial characteristics of individual regions. Additional data, including the number of further education institutions and the activities of unemployment benefit offices, was then factored in to create a detailed mapping of regional labour markets.
The study, which also took into account various structural, social and institutional considerations, examined data from the start of 1999 to the end of 2007. Four of the five areas with the shortest claim periods for Job-Seeker’s Allowance were found to be in Scotland’s remote Isles and Highlands.
Dr Wilke, a consultant to the Department of Work and Pensions, stressed that personal characteristics remain the most important driver of job-hunting success.
He said: “It’s important to make clear that local labour market conditions can’t substitute for a lack of individual qualities when it comes to looking for work. Our results show the characteristics of an unemployed person are generally more significant. Even so, local labour market conditions still have a supportive role. We know the government is already targeting problematic neighbourhoods in cities like London and Birmingham, but this research suggests this has only a limited effect.”
Based at the University of Nottingham, the Nottingham School of Economics is widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading research departments in its field.
Its academics have advised organisations including the Treasury, the World Bank, the IMF and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Birmingham Mail on September 3rd 2011
Dr Ralf Wilke is an Associate Professor at the Nottingham School of Economics. His research interests are in the areas of microeconometrics and applied econometrics. He is a Research Fellow of the ZEW, Mannheim, a Visiting Research Fellow of the Policy Studies Institute, London, and a consultant to the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Nottingham School of Economics
The NSE has earned a world-class reputation for its research on a broad range of economic subjects, particularly globalisation, experimental economics and time-series econometrics.
Its standing among the elite economics departments in the UK was reinforced by the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, which ranked its “research power” among the top three in the country. The measurement of “research power” takes into account not only the quality of research but, crucially, the number of staff put forward for inclusion in the RAE. To underline the strength and depth of its work, the School put forward every member of its staff.
All of its research was classed as of international quality, and 85 per cent was defined as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” – the top two possible ratings.