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Number of people out of work in Wales falls to lowest level for 8 years

The following article has been extracted from Wales Online:

The number of people without jobs in Wales has fallen by another 5,000 while employment expands at a rapid rate, according to the latest official figures.

There were 73,000 people unemployed in Wales between February and April according to the ONS data, amounting to an unemployment rate of 4.8%.

It’s the lowest figure for people out of work since early 2008.

Wales outperforming rest of UK

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The improving employment rate in Wales continues to outperform all other parts of the UK.

“We are now ahead of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland with the fastest growing rate of employment and the sharpest declining rate of unemployment over the last 12 months.

First Minister Carwyn Jones

“At 4.8%, the unemployment rate in Wales is lower than the UK average for the third consecutive month, while employment is close to its record highest rate. Meanwhile, inward investment into Wales also continues at historic high levels.

“Already in 2016 many companies such as Aston Martin, MotoNovo, TVR, Essentra, EE and BT have all chosen Wales as the place to locate or expand their new businesses, creating employment and training opportunities for thousands of Welsh workers.”

‘Figures point to confident Wales’

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “An expanding Welsh economy is creating a strong jobs market.

“Today’s statistics again point to a confident Wales, which is exporting and trading its way to greater success.

“There is more work to do, and there is also some suggestion that investments are being paused until the EU referendum result is known. But I am confident Wales will continue to pull ahead and continue to create highly skilled jobs with wages to match.”

During the quarter the number in work fell by 2,000. However, the figure has increased 42,000 over the year, an increase of 1.6 percentage points in the employment rate, the largest percentage point increase among all UK nations and regions.

The final set of official labour market figures before the EU referendum next week showed that 31.5 million people are in work across the UK – the highest since records began in 1971.

UK figures

The UK now has an employment rate of 74% – another record high – and a jobless rate of 5%, the lowest for a decade.

The number of people on the claimant count dropped by 400 last month to 746,100, although the figure for April has been revised to show an increase of 6,400 in the light of later information on those claiming the out-of-work element of Universal Credit.

Source: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The claimant count is 47,900 lower than a year ago.

Economic inactivity, including those looking after a relative, on long-term sick leave or who have given up looking for work, fell by 9,000 in the latest quarter to 8.9 million.

The figure for women reached a record low of 5.5 million.

Average earnings increased by 2% in the year to April, unchanged on the previous month.

Other data from the ONS showed public sector employment has increased by 6,000, mainly because of a rise in NHS staff.

Local government employment has reached a record low of 2.2 million after a fall of 17,000 in recent months.

The number of workers in private firms has topped 26 million – 50,000 more than at the end of last year and almost half a million more than a year ago.

Employment in the NHS is now 1.6 million, a rise of 31,000 since March last year.

Osborne tweet


Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne inspects a microchip during a visit to Cardiff University

Chancellor George Osborne tweeted: “At 5%, unemployment at its lowest rate for eleven years – let’s not put that at risk by irreversible decision to quit EU.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said: “Secure employment and a decent wage are key to transforming the life chances of people right the way across the country, so I’m delighted to see another strong set of figures this month.

“There are more people in work than ever before and wages are continuing their upward climb, which is great news for hard-working families who have seen a rise in their living standards over the past year.

“Our economic plan is delivering jobs and security right across the UK.”

Local comment

FSB Wales Policy chair Janet Jones said: “The continuing fall in the unemployment rate is very welcome and reflects the growth of small businesses across Wales.

“However, there is no room for complacency as almost a quarter of working-aged people in Wales are still economically inactive.

“One key way of tackling economic inactivity is to encourage more female entrepreneurship, and that is an issue we are highlighting this week with the Wales launch of our Women in Enterprise report.”

Robert Lloyd Griffiths, director of the IoD in Wales, said: “I am encouraged that Wales’ jobless rate remains lower than the UK’s although we must not become complacent, of course.

“While the jobless figure here has fallen by 5,000 in the last three months, employment has also fallen by 2,000.

“However compared with a year ago Wales has 22,000 fewer people unemployed and 42,000 more people in jobs, which is obviously to be welcomed. This reflects what I am hearing from our members across Wales, who continue to emphasise that greater investment in their business will result in improved employment opportunities.

“British firms have maintained employment growth and continued to shift staff from part time to full time work until April. Rather than lay off valuable staff unnecessarily, they seem to be trying to keep calm until we get the result of the referendum on the 24th.

“One particularly positive aspect of the figures is that short term unemployment continues to decrease, while medium-term unemployment hasn’t grown. This means that those shifting from short-term employment are going into work and not dropping out of the labour force.”

Skills shortages

Sarah Jones, head of marketing at Acorn recruitment and training agency, said: “Today’s employment figures are excellent news for the UK as any fall in unemployment signals that the economy is continuing to head in the right direction.

“In Wales, the figures showed that the rate of unemployment is again below the UK average, with Wales continuing to go from strength to strength.

“This reiterates what we have seen here with our specialist sectors such as IT and digital, legal, and technical and engineering who are seeing an increase in permanent placements on a monthly basis. And of course, the construction industry in South Wales is thriving with so many projects on the horizon.

“However, there is a growing concern about skills shortages within these sectors, so we must continue to address this to support the growing economy.

“It is clear the road to decent growth will continue to have its ups and downs, but the labour market is certainly moving forward.”

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