UNEMPLOYMENT in Wales has fallen faster than the rest of the UK for the fifth successive month.
New ONS statistics show that 4.3% of Welsh people were out of work for the quarter up to and including June, against 4.8% in the previous period.
Unemployment at a UK level is slightly higher, at 4.9%.
Commenting on the figures, Conservative spokesperson for the Economy, Russell George AM, said:
“These figures are great news for Welsh communities, and further evidence that the UK Government’s long term economic plan is delivering economic growth for the whole of the UK.
“Unemployment in Wales is at its lowest level for more than a decade, illustrating growing confidence in the economy, and it is falling faster in Wales than in any other part of the UK.”
Commenting on the latest Labour Market Statistics, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The labour market in Wales continues to perform strongly
“Over the past 12 months, Wales has seen unemployment fall faster than anywhere else in the UK. We are ahead of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with unemployment declining at a rate more than twice the UK average and now standing well below the UK rate of 4.9%.
“Over the same period, employment in Wales has also increased by 17,000 and is close to its highest recorded level.
“As a pro-business government, we are continuing to work hard to support the right economic conditions to help create and safeguard jobs right across Wales. Whatever happens around us, we will continue to provide a strong, stable and secure environment for business and enterprise.”
Plaid Cymru AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Adam Price, welcomed the drop in Welsh unemployment levels but warned that the positive headlines hide the real story of growing economic inactivity in Wales.
Mr Price said that Wales was still blighted by a low-wage economy meaning that in-work poverty is a very real problem facing many people throughout the country, and made the case for infrastructure investment to create high-skilled, well-paid jobs.
Mr Price, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Business, Economy and Finance, said: “Plaid Cymru welcomes the drop in unemployment in Wales from 4.6% to 4.3%, taking us further below the UK average of 4.9%.
“However, this positive headline hides the fact that economic inactivity in Wales has risen by 0.8% – a worrying figure which highlights the fact that fewer people are in work or looking for work.
“The main problem facing workers in Wales is that they are blighted by a low-wage economy, meaning that in-work poverty is a real issue.
“Plaid Cymru has long advocated a modest increase in infrastructure spending in order to get the Welsh economy moving by creating high-skilled, well-paid jobs and to generate sustainable growth.
“We also want to see the introduction of a real living wage – not the sham version adopted by the then Chancellor Osborne – so that people aren’t struggling to make ends meet despite being in employment.”