Welsh Government criticised over employment figures
Opposition parties have criticised the Welsh Government following the release of disappointing employment statistics.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show that for the three months ending May 2023, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the South East of England (79.5%) and the lowest was in Wales (71.9%).
The North East of England saw the largest increase in the employment rate compared with the same period last year, increasing by 3.0 percentage points, with Wales seeing the largest decrease of 1.8 percentage points.
For the three months ending May 2023, the highest unemployment rate estimates in the UK were in both the West Midlands and Wales (5.0%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (2.5%).
Wales had the largest increase in the unemployment rate compared with the same period last year, increasing by 1.2 percentage points, with the North East seeing the largest decrease of 1.6 percentage points.
For the three months ending May 2023, the highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (26.1%) and the lowest was in the South East (17.4%); the West Midlands saw a joint record-low economic inactivity rate for the region, at 20.3%. Wales saw the largest increase in the economic inactivity rate compared with the same period last year, up 0.8 percentage points to 24.2%, with the North East seeing the largest decrease of 2.0 percentage points to 22.8%.
‘Making it up’
In 2019, the then Deputy Economy Minister Lee Waters said in a speech: “We don’t know what we’re doing on the economy”, going on on to say “For 20 years we’ve pretended we know what we’re doing on the economy – and the truth is we don’t… Everybody is making it up as we go along.”
Plaid Cymru’s economy spokesman Luke Fletcher said: “Four years since the Labour Welsh Government first admitted that they didn’t know what they were doing on the economy – it seems that little has changed.
“The concerning pattern of rising unemployment in Wales is a reflection of the lack of innovation from this government and its reactive rather than proactive approach to building a sustainable Welsh workforce.
“Many of the economic levers that could create a favourable employment environment reside in Westminster but Labour ministers in Wales would rather allow the Tories to clip our economic wings and drive up unemployment than take matters into our own hands.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Economy Minister Paul Davies said: “Unemployment has risen again in Labour-run Wales, to the highest it’s been in five years and the sharpest rise in the last year of any nation or region of the UK.
“This is the third month in a row that the unemployment rate in Wales has risen and urgent action is needed to ensure that this worrying trend does not continue.
“Ministers in Cardiff Bay need to work with businesses in order to help them grow – and that means creating more procurement opportunities, reforming the planning system and investing in skills for the future.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are working to create a more equal and prosperous Wales, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and to play their full part in our economy and our society, and where more people feel confident about planning their future in Wales. That’s why we’re supporting businesses to create more quality jobs, be more flexible and provide better-paid opportunities for workers.
“Our focus remains on reducing economic inactivity. Our Economic Mission confirms the levers we do have to narrow the skills divide, support better jobs and in turn tackle poverty. Our Plan for Employability and Skills prioritises people most in need of help. This includes supporting people to stay in work and those further away from the labour market to find employment.”
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