Wales unemployment highest in UK

The unemployment rate in Wales over
the three months before February rose to 9.2 per cent, 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 per cent) and West Midlands (9.5 per

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 per cent. For England it stands at 7.8 per cent, for Scotland 7.6
per cent and for Northern Ireland 6.3 per cent.

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 per cent 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

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.”

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.”