An area traditionally defined by manufacturing, and particularly the automobile industry, the West Midlands has diversified in the past few decades. Peugeot, Mg Rover and Jaguar remain large employers, but over 2,000 different companies are based in a region which contains the country's second largest city, Birmingham as well as Coventry, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. Only 10% of the population are employed in the manufacturing industry, however, despite the presence of such local stalwarts as Cadbury Trebor in Bournville.
Local councils and authorities are popular employers, with Birmingham City Council for example being the largest local authority in Europe. There are also four universities based in Birmingham alone and ten in the West Midlands altogether, all of which provide a significant portion of employment in the county. The economy is dominated by the service industry, however, with over 80% of the population employed within it.
The recession has hit the region fairly hard, with unemployment rising even as it falls in the rest of the country. The county has a rate of 8.6%, compared with 7.9% for the rest of the country, although recent figures show that the number of people in work in the West Midlands has in fact risen by 107,000 in the past year. As with the rest of the country, there are plenty of opportunities to be had in the West Midlands but competition is stiff, which is where the use of specialist recruitment agencies come in.