Unemployment figures reach new high

Gareth Hughes argues that the latest statistics should persuade the Welsh Government to push more resources towards the economy

The UK unemployment figures just released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show an increase to 128,000 since October.

In this pre-Christmas period the figures will not lighten the mood within a coalition government that is already under strain after the EU debacle.

The figure of those unemployed now stands at 2.64 million. This is the highest level since 1994. The jobless rate is up to 8.3% from the 7.9% of the previous quarter.

The number of people out of work for longer than a year rose by 19,000 in the latest quarter to 868,000, the worst figure since 1996.

The figures for Wales also show a rise of 8.3% with the figures now having climbed to 130,000 unemployed between August and October an increase of 10,000 on the previous quarter.

Both young people and women have been particularly hard hit. Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 54,000 to 1.027 million, the highest since records began in 1992.

The Office for National Statistics also reported that women’s unemployment increased by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest figure since 1988.

The figures also show that much of the increase are from jobs that have been cut from the public sector. In the sector 67,000 jobs were lost. Clearly the private sector is not compensating for these losses, the sector added only 5,000 jobs in the same period.

Even those in work are feeling the pinch. Wages continued to rise well below the rate of inflation. Excluding bonuses, average pay rose 1.8% from a year ago, and by just 0.1% from three months ago. But with inflation running at 4.8% many are facing serious cuts to their income.

Country Total Unemployed Quarterly change Unemployment rate
England 2,217,000 plus 97,000 8.5%
N Ireland 60,000 minus 4,000 6.9%
Scotland 229,000 plus 25,000 8.5%
Wales 133,000 plus 11,000 9.1%

Again of the four countries of the Union, Wales is hardest hit, the other countries seeing a smaller increase in the unemployment rate with Northern Ireland seeing a decrease.

The figures again point to the need for the government in Wales to push a great deal harder on its economic renewal programme. It also validates the stance that Plaid Cymru took over the budget when it pressed for more resources to be pushed towards the economy.

Gareth Hughes is an independent political commentator. He blogs here

One thought on “Unemployment figures reach new high

  1. They have done very little to react in 7 months, so I am not expecting much more from Carwyn and co. IWJ’s criticisms of their lack of action on the Welsh economy, appear to be correct.

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