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West Midlands: A fifth of the population were aged under 16 in 2012

The 2013 ONS regional characteristics analysis for the West Midlands

The latest ONS Region and Country Profiles analysis takes a look at the regional characteristics of the nine regions within England and countries of the UK, exploring aspects such as population, age, employment and house prices. The West Midlands contributes 7% to the UK’s economic output. As a region it has a relatively high proportion of children and the highest proportion of unqualified adults in England.

West Midlands region is home to 9% of the UK population

The West Midlands and London are the only landlocked regions in England. With an area of 13,000 square kilometres (sq km), it occupies 5% of the total area of the UK. It is centred on Birmingham and the surrounding West Midlands built-up area. In contrast, large areas of the county of Herefordshire and Shropshire are remote and sparsely populated.

It has one of the lowest proportions of its population living in rural areas at 15.1%, compared with 17.6% in England in 2011. The West Midlands had a population of 5.6 million at mid-2012, almost 9% of the UK population. The increase from mid-2011 was 0.6%, compared with an increase of 0.7% for the UK. In mid-2012, the region’s population density was 434 people per sq km, close to the England average of 411.

Region has the highest percentage of unqualified adults

People aged under 16 in the West Midlands in 2012 made up 19.5% of the population, one of the highest regional percentages in England. The proportion that were aged 65 and over was 17.4%. This compares with averages for England of 18.9% and 16.9% respectively. The percentage of the region’s population aged 16 to 64 having no qualifications in 2012 was the highest in England at 13.6%, compared with 9.5% for England.

Life expectancy at birth in the West Midlands in 2009 to 2011 was 78.4 years for males and 82.6 years for females, close to the England averages of 78.9 and 82.9 years respectively.

West Midlands generated 7% of the UK’s economic output

In 2011, the region contributed 7% of the UK’s economic output (gross value added or GVA). The unemployment rate in Q2 2013 was 9.9% in the West Midlands, one of the highest of the English regions, compared with 7.8% for both England and the UK, and 10.3% in the North East.

The average house price in the West Midlands in June 2013 was £184,000, higher than in any of the northern regions or the East Midlands but substantially below the south of England. The UK average was £242,000. House prices in the region increased 3.1% in the previous year, compared with 8.1% in London. This was the third highest increase in the UK and the same as the UK average increase.

Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of West Midlands' residents was £14,400 per head in 2011, compared with £16,000 for the UK. In April 2012, median gross weekly earnings for full-time adult employees were £469, lower than the UK median of £506. Between 2002 and 2012 the increase in traffic on major roads was higher in the West Midlands (4.7%) than in England (2.0%).

Where can I find out more about ONS regional statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Sub-national Reporting team at the ONS using data from a range of official statistics. If you’d like to find out more about the latest regional statistics, please see our Notes on Sources, latest tables (260.5 Kb Excel sheet) and interactive mapping and charting tool or visit our Directory of Tables page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at

Categories: People and Places, Communities, Neighbourhoods and Communities, Economy, Labour Market, Housing and Households, Housing Market, Population, Travel and Transport
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