By Daniel Hunter

The rise in the unemployment figures in the West Midlands underlines the urgent need for businesses to look at exporting, business leaders said.

The jobless figures for the region are the second highest in the country at 9.2 per cent, with a rate of 0.4 per cent. This exceeds the national rise of 0.1 per cent from Q4 2012.

The amount of unemployed people in the West Midlands now stands at 253,000, up from 252,000 last month. Looking at the same time last year, the West Midlands, with a rise of 0.7 per cent and the South West are the only regions to see an increase.

"It is unacceptable that our region is so high in the jobless league table and it underlines that SMEs are still finding it difficult to take on new employees," Steve Brittan, president of Birmingham Chamber, said.

"One of the main reasons is the burden of red tape, especially those regulations which surround employment. Some of the laws on this issue need to be eased, especially in making it easier for companies to shed staff should fortunes take a turn for the worst.

"However, Government also needs to give businesses the confidence to grow and export. The British American Business Council is holding its international conference this week which will provide lots of information for businesses who wish to export to the US."

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