Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Unemployment in Wales rises to 125,000

A man searching for job vacancies
Unemployment in Wales has now reached 125,000

Unemployment rose by 9,000 in Wales between August and October, leading to a total increase of 30,000 this year.

The quarterly rise was one of the largest in the UK, and it means there are now 125,000 people unemployed in Wales.

The unemployment rate in Wales is 8.8% against a UK average of 7.9%.

However, there were small falls last month in both the numbers claiming jobseekers' allowance and those classed as economically inactive.

In the three months to June this year, Wales was the only part of the UK to record a quarterly drop in the number of jobless.

The assembly government said seasonally adjusted claimant count unemployment in Wales in November fell by 500 (0.6%) on the previous month to stand at 5.7%.

The count in both Wales and the UK has fallen for the first time since early 2008.

Deputy First Minister and Economy Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "With the first decline in claimant count unemployment since early 2008, the latest data shows some encouraging signs that the labour market is stabilising in both Wales and the UK as a whole.

Nick Servini
By Nick Servini, BBC Wales business correspondent

The most interesting figure here is that the number of people claiming jobseekers' allowance in Wales and across the UK has reduced for the first time in nearly two years.

The figure of 81,000 in Wales is based on an official record for November and obviously cannot be disputed.

It will be seized on by many that the worst is over and they may well be right.

It may also be the result of the flexibility of the workforce in this recession with staff taking pay cuts and working four day weeks to keep hold of their jobs.

But on the UK government's preferred measure, the Labour Force Survey, the figure continues to rise and will probably have some way to go yet before settling down in the new year.

By the end of January we may be technically out of recession, but most people expect it to be much longer before employers have the confidence to start recruiting significant numbers again.

"However, we remain cautious in over-interpreting the latest figures, especially the quarterly ILO [International Labour Organisation] data, which has proved highly volatile during the year.

"We are also acutely aware of the impact unemployment can have on families and individuals, particularly at this time of year, and we remain resolved to continue our decisive action to support people and businesses through this difficult period."

He said the assembly government's counter-recessionary measures and new programme of economic renewal were "designed to both protect individuals and businesses, and ensure we are ready to take advantage of the economic upturn when it comes".

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said that for the second month running, nearly half of all jobs lost in the UK were in Wales.

"People will look at these figures and judge both Labour and Plaid Cymru on their record of failure to keep Wales working. This failure is all the more relevant as we approach Christmas," she said.

"With the worst unemployment rate of any UK nation, one in four economically inactive, and large numbers of young people out of work, we need a fresh approach to creating and protecting jobs, supporting businesses, investing in skills and training, and to get Wales and Britain working.

"Without that, Wales will continue to be trapped in a spiral of economic decline and unemployment."

The number of people unemployed in the UK rose by 21,000 between August and October to 2.49m.

The increase was the smallest rise in the jobless total since the March-to-May period in 2008, according to the Office for National Statistics figures.

The number of unemployed in the three months to October fell in some areas including Scotland and the West Midlands, while the biggest increase was recorded in the south east of England, a rise of 15,000.

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