Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Unemployment rate highest in UK

Unemployment in Wales has risen to 133,000 in the three months to January

The unemployment rate in Wales over the three months before February rose to 9.2%, higher than any other nation within the United Kingdom.

Latest official figures show unemployment in Wales rose by 9,000 to 133,000 over that quarter.

The rate was higher than any region other than the English North East (9.5%) and West Midlands (9.5%).

UK unemployment fell for the second successive quarter, down 33,000 to 2.45 million.

The latest unemployment rate for the UK is 7.8%. For England it stands at 7.8%, for Scotland 7.6% and for Northern Ireland 6.3%.

Job centre
...almost exactly one quarter of the working age population in Wales is economically inactive, out of work, doing nothing. That's a shameful record
Conservative MP Stephen Crabb

Despite the rise in overall unemployment, the claimant count, or number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, in Wales fell by 1,900 to 78,000 in February.

The Welsh economic inactivity rate also fell by 0.5% over the last quarter - the largest fall within the UK regions.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones welcomed those falls but urged caution overall.

He said: "There has been an increase in the survey-based level of unemployment and we have still got a long way to go before we can be truly confident that the recession is behind us."

Key indicator

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said the increase in the unemployment level was "disappointing", but that it is more significant that the claimant figure fell.

"The number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance - the key indicator for unemployment levels in Wales - has gone down in three out of the last four months," he said.

The Conservatives attacked Mr Hain over the figures during Commons question time, saying Wales had missed out on a UK-wide drop in unemployment.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said: "After 13 years of this sorry government, almost exactly one quarter of the working age population in Wales is economically inactive, out of work, doing nothing. That's a shameful record."

Mr Hain said: "I'm surprised you dare to mention economic inactivity on a day when statistics show it has fallen in Wales by the largest proportion of anywhere in the UK."

'Mismanagement'

The Conservatives argue the Welsh unemployment rate of 9.2% is the highest since the quarter January - March 1995.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said statistics exposed the extent of Labour's "mismanagement "of the Welsh economy.

She said: "Their stubborn refusal to face facts means their policies have cost another 9,000 people their jobs in the last quarter."

For the Liberal Democrats, Jenny Randerson said she was concerned figures showed a pattern emerging.

"Wales is consistently facing higher unemployment than most of the rest of the UK," she said.



SEE ALSO
UK unemployment in further fall
17 Mar 10 |  Business
Welsh unemployment drops by 8,000
20 Jan 10 |  Wales politics
Surprise fall in UK unemployment
20 Jan 10 |  Business
Jobless total goes up to 125,000
16 Dec 09 |  Wales
UK jobless rise continues to slow
16 Dec 09 |  Business
Wales jobless down a second month
12 Aug 09 |  Wales

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