Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Capital shaping recovery in Wales

Nick Servini graphic
By Nick Servini

Admiral Insurance
Admiral is one of the big employers in Cardiff

We're not out of recession yet but inevitably much talk is now beginning to focus on the shape of the recovery - questions like where will it begin? And how strong will it be?

One development this week was the creation of the Cardiff Business Partnership. This body represents some of the biggest employers in the capital with more than 10,000 staff. The members include Admiral, Brains and Legal and General.

Those behind it believe the main driver of the economy will be the big firms in the capital.

They say the benefits won't just be shared in the city, pointing to the fact that over 70,000 people commute into Cardiff every day.

The city's economy clearly has a crucial role to play. Just one example is to be found in a quick glimpse of the Fast Growth 50, a list compiled every year of the fastest growing firms in Wales. Nearly 40% of this year's companies come from the capital.

The flavour of the month with politicians at the moment is tapping into universities to help the economy. The thinking goes that a university develops such a strong research and development base in a particular field that it attracts companies to the area.

The big hope is that well paid jobs are created as a result and the average full time wage in Wales is lifted from the present level of £26,000 a year.

Marked deterioration

In the meantime of course we're still in recession and the impact of that is still being felt, particularly in unemployment. Figures over the past two months have shown a marked deterioration in the numbers out of work.

Statisticians in Wales though are urging caution on the results of what's called the Labour Force Survey.

This is used to come up with the current unemployment figure of 125,000 in Wales. The problem is that it is based on a survey of 3,500 people in Wales and as a result can be prone to monthly jumps.

The alternative is to use the claimant count which is the specific number of people on any given month claiming Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA). Much more accurate you may think but the problem here is that there's a huge number of people, like students and housewives, looking for work who do not qualify for JSA.

For the record the latest claimant count figure stands at nearly 82,000.

No matter how bad things are at the moment, it's worth saying that unemployment was significantly worse in Wales in the 1980s than it is now. For example the claimant count in 1986 in Wales was 170,000.

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