Wales unemployment levels fall first time in six months

Unemployment in Wales has fallen for the first time in six months, latest figures reveal.

Figures for January to March show those out of work has gone down by 10,000 to 112,000, and 22,000 on the year, while employment is up 12,000 on the quarter.

The unemployment rate in Wales is now in line with the rest of the UK at 7.7%.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan welcomed the jobless fall "positive news for Wales".

"This is significant, placing Wales in line with the picture at UK level and confirming that we are moving in the right direction as we try to rebuild the economy towards a sustainable recovery, " she said.

"The increase in employment levels and decreased economic inactivity levels are also good news.

Economically inactive

"However, we need to redouble our efforts so that figures such as these now become the norm.

"The Welsh economy still faces a number of challenges and I look forward to working closely with the Welsh Government and the newly-appointed cabinet members on this important issue in the best interests of the people of Wales."

The figures released by the Office of National Statistics also show the number of economically inactive in Wales is down 7,000 on the quarter.

But the number claiming jobseekers' allowance went up in April by 100 to 70,300, which represents a rate of 5% compared with a UK rate of 4.6%.

Just two of the 22 local authority areas in Wales showed rises compared to the previous year with Pembrokeshire seeing the highest rise of 0.3% and Cardiff going up 0.1%.

Ceredigion, Carmarthen and Neath Port Talbot were all unchanged year-on-year with Monmouthshire seeing the biggest drop of 0.8%.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said figures were positive for those looking for work but warned new jobs were not being shared evenly across the UK.

He said: "Merthyr Tydfil is now the hardest place in Britain to find a job, followed by the Scottish industrial heartlands and inner London, where over 20 dole claimants are chasing every vacancy.

"With spending cuts just starting to take effect and expected to lead to heavy job losses later this year, we are still concerned that the good news may not last for much longer."

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, the former economic development minister, said: "We worked very hard on this issue, putting in place a whole new way of thinking about the economy.

"I am extremely proud that we are starting to see the fruits of that labour with unemployment falling and the figures being comparable to those in other areas of the UK."

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