Wales

Welsh unemployment at record low of 2.9%

Colourful figures standing on newspaper job adverts Image copyright Getty Images

Unemployment in Wales fell to a record low of 2.9% in October to December, compared with 3.8% for the UK.

The jobless figure was down from the previous quarter's 3.8%, recorded between July and September.

Between October and December there were 45,000 people looking for work, 14,000 fewer than the previous three months.

However over the past 12 months the Welsh employment rate has fallen, with 50,000 fewer people in work compared with the same period in 2018.

The rate of people aged 16 to 64 employed in Wales stood at 74.4%, compared with 76.5% across the UK as a whole.

Quarterly figures released in January showed the Welsh jobless rate was at 3%.

While both the Welsh and UK governments will be pleased with the low unemployment rate, there will be some concern as to why the number of people employed in Wales has dipped so sharply compared with the UK pattern.

The answer is partly found in the figure for economic inactivity, which counts people of working age who are unavailable to work because they are too ill, have taken early retirement, or are full-time carers or students.

In the 12 months up to October to December 2019 their numbers increased by 50,000 - from 20.3% to 23.3%, the largest increase in any region or nation of the UK.

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