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State of the Region Executive Summary - 2018


Welcome to the State of the region 2018 - the second annual review of economic performance across the West Midlands. This is an important moment for the WMCA and it's partners in the region to take stock: to celebrate evidence of sustained economic success and cast a spotlight where the region’s performance still falls short of fulfilling its potential as a driving force in the UK economy.

The headline metrics show welcome evidence of economic renaissance for the West Midlands. GVA per head is growing, record numbers of jobs are being created, exports are on the rise and skills are improving. Looking ahead, many economic fundamentals are expected to stay strong – with growth in other sectors expected beyond manufacturing, including real estate and Business, Professional and Financial Services. HS2 will improve productivity, connectivity, skills and job opportunities. Coventry city of culture in 2021 and the Commonwealth Games in 2022 will bring investment in venues, transport, housing, jobs and tourism, as the region's profile on the global stage is boosted.

Yet our optimism for the future must be tempered by headwinds that we know are ahead. Manufacturing looks most vulnerable to the impacts of Brexit, and the West Midlands is particularly exposed. Although headline productivity is moving in the right direction, it still lags behind the rest of the UK, as does the proportion of WMCA residents with qualifications and their healthy life expectancy. Without effective investment in productivity and skills, the region risks losing the ability to attract future investment. On many key metrics there is still a long way to go to meet our ambitions. Too many people remain left behind, unable to access or feel the full benefits of sustained economic growth.

This summary, and the technical report that sits behind it, provide a consistent reference point back
to the headline goals set out in the WMCA Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), using the performance indicators it developed to ensure we are pursuing economic success in balanced economic and social terms that feel real to the people living and working in the region. But it is also a place to highlight new areas of emerging thinking, where new data is available and where we are developing new methodologies to enrich our understanding and inform new policy approaches to help us deliver our goals. Combined it forms a set of metrics that will build over time, laying new building blocks on the foundations of the SEP, and creating a robust evidence base that will continue to evolve to inform the approach of the WMCA and its partners across the region.

"Looking ahead, many economic fundamentals are expected to stay strong – with growth in other sectors expected beyond manufacturing, including real estate and Business, Professional and Financial Services"

Consistent with the WMCA Strategic Economic Plan the data related to ‘WMCA’ in this report, unless otherwise stated, relates to the 3 LEP geography (Black Country LEP, GBSLEP and CWLEP).