Jobless rate in Wales still below UK average

Job fair Image copyright Reuters

The latest unemployment figures show that joblessness in Wales has remained lower than the average for the UK.

Figures released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the rate of unemployment in Wales has stayed at 4.4% of 16-64 year olds.

This compares with 4.7% for the UK as a whole.

Between November and January there were 66,000 people in Wales available for work but not employed.

That is 12,000 fewer than the same period 12 months earlier.

The unemployment rate in Wales has been below the UK rate for a year now.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the statistics showed that the jobs market in Wales "is continuing to outperform almost every other part of the UK".

"We are continuing to work hard to grow the Welsh economy and are constantly looking to the future."

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said: "It is great news that the UK unemployment rate has reached its lowest point since June to August 1975 and that Wales' rate continues to stay below this average.

"The increase in employment levels in Wales highlights business confidence in the Welsh economy and its ability to face the challenges ahead."

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Analysis by Sarah Dickins, BBC Wales economics correspondent

Wales has had lower unemployment than the UK as a whole for many months now, with only the south west, East Midlands and south east England having a lower rate.

But Wales also has a relatively low level of employment and a relatively high proportion of people between 16 and 64 who are not working but also not available for work.

This may be because they are ill or caring for someone, referred to as economically inactive. In Wales 23.3% come into that category. Inactivity rates are only higher than Wales in north east England and Northern Ireland.

In Wales, 73.3% of people aged between 16 and 64 are working - only the north east, north west, Yorkshire and Humber and the West Midlands have lower levels of employment.

Wales has seen one of the biggest falls in the unemployment rate in the 12 months to the November to January quarter. Proportionately only Scotland has seen a greater fall.

But Scotland also saw a significant reduction in the number of people working during that period and a big increase in people not working and not available for work.

Other figures out on Wednesday show there has been a 13% increase in people employed on zero hours contracts across the UK in the past year to December, a total of 900,000 people or 2.8% of the workforce

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