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Decades of poor employment performance is turning the West Midlands into the UK's biggest joblessness blackspot, a leading think-tank warned on Monday (12 December).

The Resolution Foundation said the region's employment issues played a "key role" in West Midlands voters backing a Brexit at the EU referendum in June.

Conor D'Arcy, a policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said turning the region's economic prospects around will be a "huge task" for new West Midlands mayor, due to be elected in May 2017.

"For years the West Midlands has been ignored as previous governments have focused on making London the financial capital of the world and Manchester a Northern Powerhouse," D'Arcy said.

"It's high time Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country are brought out of the shadows and made the focus of a national renaissance for Britain's major cities."

The think-tank found that the West Midlands had not shared in the recent "jobs miracle" across the UK, which saw the employment rate hit a record high of 74.5% in the three months to September.

The region now has the lowest employment rate of any major city region at just 64.5%, and Solihull is the only local authority to have a higher employment rate.

Birmingham, meanwhile, is bottom of the pack with employment down at 60.9%, followed by Walsall at 65.1%.

The Resolution Foundation report highlighted three groups experiencing "particular troubles", including young people, black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) communities and low-qualified workers.

The study comes as the think-tank hosts a debate between Conservative West Midlands Mayoral hopeful and former John Lewis boss Andy Street and Labour's candidate Sion Simon MEP.

The election will come around two months after Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50, the official mechanism to split from the EU. The UK prime minister has promised to start formal talks with Brussels by the end of March 2017.

The government, meanwhile, is waiting for a final ruling from the Supreme Court in January over whether MPs have to vote on Article 50 or not.