Wednesday, March 16, 2011


In the midst of all the excitement of the Manufacturing Action Plan for Wales finally being published after a three year hiatus, it seems that the news channels have forgotten that today is also the publication date of the latest Labour Market data for Wales, which includes information on employment, unemployment and claimant count.

Given that we have two very different governments at a UK and Welsh level both trying to claim credit for any good news on jobs and blame the other for the bad news on increasing dole queues, what does this latest release tell us?

  • First of all, 126,000 people are currently unemployed, a slight increase on last month but a decrease of 7,000 on a year ago. The unemployment rate of 8.7 per cent is the highest of all four of the home nations.  
  • In terms of employment, there are currently 1.327 million employed in Wales. This is a slight increase on last month but 20,000 higher than a year ago. However, the employment rate of 67.5 per cent remains the third lowest of the UK regions after the North East of England and Northern Ireland.
  • Economic inactivity remains at 490,000 - no change from a year ago (i.e. 26 % of the working age population)
  • Finally, the claimant count has gone down from 77,700 to 70,300 in the last year, a decrease of 10 per cent over the previous 12 months. Youth claimant count remains 11 per cent lower than in February 2010.
From one point of view, it looks very positive, but whilst employment is increasing, there does not seem to be a similar concomitant decrease in unemployment across Wales, which remains stubbornly high. I do not expect these figures to change dramatically during the final release of the Labour Force statistics prior to the Assembly election so it will be interesting to see whether any of the policies of the four main parties in Wales will kickstart the economy and, more importantly, create jobs.