In a week that's seen George Osborne present his austerity budget aimed at keeping Britain off "the road to ruin", the government finds itself accused by its political opponents, including the unions, of putting the fragile economic recovery at risk.
They warn cutting the public sector also impacts on jobs in private sector firms who supply goods and services to bodies including local authorities.
It is important to bear in mind that the public spending cuts and tax increases are the "stick" element of the government's "stick and carrot" approach. The "carrot" part is a series of incentives to kick-start growth and create jobs: the National Insurance "holiday" would save firms in regions like ours 5,000 for each of up to ten new jobs they create in regions like ours. But the "stick" part is the tax rises, notably VAT up to 20% and the new top rate of 28% Capital Gains Tax.
So is this austerity budget "unavoidable" as George Osborne says, or is it "reckless" as the acting Labour Leader Harriet Harman insists, pointing to the risk of that dreaded 'double dip' recession?
This is the debate we'll be taking up live on the Politics Show (Sunday BBC One at 11am) with her husband Jack Dromey, formerly of the Unite union and now the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington; while the coalition government will be represented by the newly-elected Conservative MP for Stafford, Jeremy Lefroy and by the Chair of the Liberal Democrat MPs, Lorely Burt, re-elected as MP for Solihull.
So what's the background to the debate here in the Midlands?
Our region has just seen its seventh consecutive monthly fall in unemployment, down by 9,000 to 240,000. This compares with a figure of over 280,000, equivalent to a city the size of Wolverhampton when the recession was at its worst.
It also contrasts sharply with the national statistics which show unemployment rising again, prompting Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary, Liam Byrne MP to warn ministers their austerity measures could trigger the dreaded "double dip" which his government had fought hard to stave-off.
And despite the generally more encouraging picture on jobs, his Birmingham Hodge Hill constituency remains near the top of the national league table for people claiming unemployment-related benefits.
Birmingham Ladywood's Job Centre is also constantly one of the busiest in Britain. Its manager Jean Harborne told me earlier this year that her staff have been able to find increasing numbers of vacancies. The problem was keeping up with the new job-seekers landing on their books all the time.
So a rather patchy picture starts to emerge: chronic deprivation and long-term joblessness in some places, but clear signs of recovery in others. After the dark days of 2008-9, Jaguar Land Rover report their biggest jump in sales in 60 years.
When I met the firm's new Chief Executive Dr Ralf Speth recently at his first media briefing since taking-on the job, he was extremely bullish. Despite the firm's plans to close one or other of their Solihull or Castle Bromwich plants he was adamant that it was not his intention to "let anyone go". On the contrary, he hoped JLR would employ more people here, not fewer.
But he did have one big concern: that our universities and colleges needed to step-up the supply of skilled young people, especially engineers. JLR work closely with Warwick University's manufacturing group but overall there's still a dearth of top talent.
How ironic, I always think, that a region which for most of the 20th century was world famous for its skilled workforce now finds itself short of this most precious commodity. And how does this square with the Government's plans to scale-back Labour's planned increases in higher education places? Back to those public sector cuts again.....
For a different perspective I turned to another private sector firm where business is booming. It's an ill wind....! Personal Career Management have just celebrated the opening of their swish new offices in the centre of Birmingham.
They aim to help everyone from anxious young graduates to increasing numbers of senior professionals who find themselves looking for work. The firm's boss, Corinne Mills is the author of "You're Hired", the best-selling guide setting out how to sell yourself in that all-important CV
She speaks movingly about the top HR executive who'd been dealing with challenging personnel issues in a major employer only to find the biggest challenge was his own redundancy.
The starting point for Corinne Mills was the vision, originally set out by Professor Charles Handy of the London Business School, of the 'portfolio career', Like him, she aims to empower people to take control of their own destinies. How I'd love to see one of those "Apprentices" stand up to Alan Sugar and tell him that 'He's' fired because they've found a job somewhere else which better suits their long-term career design.
However, sadly, she admits that's simply not the way things look for many of the people her firm deals with, struggling to make their way in the most challenging jobs market in living memory.
We'll be taking up these challenges on this Sunday's Politics Show (BBC One at 11am).
And we'd like to hear you views on that question whether the Budget is "unavoidable" or "reckless". Email your comments to bbc.co.uk/politicsshow, remembering of course to click on the West Midlands link.