Wales' jobless rate rises by 8,000, taking it to 7.1%

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Media captionProf Karel Williams said service industry jobs were not being created in Wales

Jobless figures in Wales have risen by 8,000, which is the greatest increase in unemployment throughout the UK, official figures show.

The rate in Wales in the three months to October now stands at 7.1%, compared with 6.6% in November.

There are now 41,000 fewer people working than 12 months ago, the Office for National Statistics has said.

In the UK as a whole, the unemployment rate fell by 63,000 to 1.96 million.

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A Welsh government spokesman defended the figures and said the rate was lower than at the same time last year.

He said youth unemployment continued to fall faster in Wales than in the UK.

"Employment in Wales remains well above its historic average and claimant count is at its lowest rate since 2008," said the spokesman.

'Fragile recovery'

"When these figures are considered alongside other key economic indicators, such as the largest increase in GVA (gross value added) per head in the UK and record inward investment, it is clear that our policies are making a difference, supporting jobs and growth right across Wales."

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said: "A positive long term trend but these figures show there's no room for complacency."

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Image caption There are now 41,000 fewer people working in Wales compared with a year ago

But Shadow Minister for Business William Graham AM said economic recovery in Wales was "fragile".

"With the UK set to be the fastest growing economy in the G7 and the UK unemployment rate falling again, there is still more that Welsh Labour ministers must do to ensure Wales benefits," said Mr Graham.

"Labour has a number of economic levers at its disposal here and its government must work in close partnership with UK colleagues."

Welsh Liberal Democrat economy spokeswoman Eluned Parrott AM said: "We need to find out why the unemployment rate is falling six times faster in the West Midlands and four times faster in Scotland for example."

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said the figures suggested "a sudden and negative reversal" in Wales' economic fortunes.

Analysis: BBC Wales economics correspondent Sarah Dickins

These figures paint a poor picture of the Welsh economy - one where the number of people working is contracting significantly.

Wales is the only part of the UK where there are fewer people working than a year earlier and the 41,000 reduction in employees shows that trend is accelerating .

While there are also 7,000 fewer people jobless and able to work than 12 months ago, the number of people not working and not able to work because of, for instance, poor health or caring responsibilities has increased by 48,000, which is by far the biggest increase in all parts of the UK.

Last March Wales had a lower unemployment rate than the UK, now the rate is 6% for the UK and 7.1% for Wales.

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