Wales

Unemployment rises again in Wales by 7,000 to 122,000

Unemployment in Wales rose by 7,000 in the three months to July, official statistics show.

It is the second consecutive month that quarterly unemployment figures have risen.

It puts the number of people out of work at 122,000 and the unemployment rate at 8.4% - above the UK rate of 7.9%.

The Welsh Government said the "disappointing" figures showed the economy was still fragile.

Employment is down by 25,000 on the quarter and the level of economic inactivity is up.

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: "Today's disappointing figures show the Welsh economy is still fragile and that businesses of all sizes and across all sectors are finding these are difficult and challenging times.

"The Welsh Government is reviewing the best way to support businesses in Wales so that they are best placed to safeguard existing Welsh jobs and, where possible, create new employment opportunities."

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) come a day after steelmaker Tata, Wales' biggest private sector employer, said it would halt production for a week at its Trostre tinplate works in Llanelli.

Quarterly figures published last month showed unemployment up 11,000 - the biggest rise since the three months to March 2010.

'Storm clouds'

Robert Lloyd Griffiths, of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "The storm clouds are gathering with falling employment and rising unemployment at a time when it is difficult to see how this might reverse.

"The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the euro-zone crisis means that companies are likely to remain cautious about hiring and more certain about firing."

A squeeze on incomes meant "high street prospects remain gloomy", he added.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan insisted businesses were doing well, despite the difficult climate.

Mrs Gillan, who is due to speak at a dinner in Cardiff to celebrate the fastest growing Welsh companies on Friday, accused the Welsh Government of dragging its feet over enterprise zones, which offer incentives to companies in designated areas.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Budget in March that he would establish 21 such sites across England and First Minister Carwyn Jones has previously pledged £10m to create themed zones in Wales.

Mrs Gillan said it was worrying no decision has been made.

"I think today's figures demonstrate that we need to roll up our sleeves and work together for one common goal: more jobs and more investment in Wales.

"We are already working closely with businesses and organisations to provide the right conditions for growth, in order to ensure that their successes translate into real opportunities for the people of Wales and it is essential that Wales is not behind the curve with its growth agenda."

The Welsh Government said it was awaiting clarification from Westminster on capital funding.

A spokeswoman added: "However, enterprise zones are not a solution to all the challenges facing the Welsh economy, especially as the consequential funding provided by the UK Government is exceptionally modest at £10m in total over five years."

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