The graph indicates that disposable income has been steadily increasing in all regions across the period 1997-2011. The South East of England and London stand out as being the regions with the highest disposable incomes. The Midlands compares favorably with the other regions shown, following closely behind the two leading regions.
In 2001, the percentage of individuals with a degree within the Midlands overtook the percentage of individuals with no qualifications. This is a favorable change for the region.
The key shift has been the erosion over the medium term of manufacturing jobs, whilst during the recent recession this has been intensified by an overall deepening of unemployment. The recovery in labour demand by manufacturers since 2009, however, suggests that while some rebalancing is occurring, its pace is glacial.
The comparative scale of regional gross disposable income in the West Midlands compares favourably to that of other regions, and is indicative of the pockets of high-net worth spending that can be tapped.
The positive recovery in qualification attainment over the past few years should be recognised, and while there is not a direct correlation between actual skills and general formal qualifications, the establishment of the University Technical Colleges will help address the need to sustain competitiveness by continually upgrading the technological capabilities of the labour force.
West Midlands R&D
In terms of R&D expenditure, the West Midlands continues to lag behind other regions accross all three main components.