Jobless total falls by 6,000 in Wales to stand at 6.8%

Employers say those looking for jobs must be flexible

Unemployment has fallen in Wales by 6,000 to 102,000 in the last quarter, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate was 6.8%, lower than the rate across the UK.

UK unemployment has fallen by 77,000 in the same period between December and February and now stands at 6.9%.

Welsh business leaders say the latest figures show a continued improving picture on the jobs front which suggests it is "not a mere blip".

UK Employment Minister Esther McVey said: "Wales saw the largest annual increase in the employment rate - up 2.2 percentage points on the year to 71.1% and across the UK, more and more businesses are hiring - so it's a credit to them that Britain is working again.

Start Quote

Economic inactivity and youth unemployment are falling more in Wales than nearly all other parts of the UK”

End Quote Carwyn Jones First Minister

"But there is still more to do which is why I'm calling on even more employers in Wales to work with us to tap into the fantastic pool of talent and potential the area has to offer."

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the figures show the Welsh economy continues to out-perform the rest of the UK.

Vanguard

"Economic inactivity and youth unemployment are falling more in Wales than nearly all other parts of the UK and we have seen a bigger growth in private sector employment in Wales than England, Scotland or Northern Ireland," said the first minister.

The number of people aged 16 and over claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Wales fell by 2,400 from February to March to 65,300.

Analysis

It is being seen as a continuing sign of the healthier outlook for the economy.

The unemployment rate has come down by 0.4% from where it was in the previous period. That means 6,000 fewer people unemployed.

It is hoped the continuing downward trend may see unemployment go below 100,000 for the first time since the middle of 2008, the height of the economic crisis.

There are still concerns over the number of people who are underemployed- meaning they have work but not the number of hours they would like.

Welsh Secretary David Jones said the statistics also show that youth unemployment fell by 800 in March and by 5,400 (22.%) during the year.

"In the last year employment has increased by 41,000 and the employment rate has increased by more than any other UK nation or region," he said.

Federation of Small Businesses Welsh policy unit chairman Janet Jones said: "These figures once again make welcome reading and suggest that the low rate of unemployment reported last month was not a mere blip.

"We are confident that it is small and medium-sized businesses that are at the vanguard of this job creation."

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