Largest employment rise in Wales, figures show

Port Talbot Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption New homes being built in Port Talbot - where this week's job losses are not reflected in the latest figures

Wales has seen proportionately the largest rise in employment in the UK, figures show.

In the three months to November, the number of people in work in Wales grew by 48,000 compared with the same time last year.

Unemployment fell by 11,000 during the same period, with the unemployment rate hitting 5.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The rate for the UK as a whole was 5.1%, its lowest in more than a decade.

Over the past year, the number of people unemployed in Wales has fallen by 22,000, according to the figures.

The Welsh government said it was the joint largest reduction in the unemployment rate of anywhere in the UK.

'Major uncertainty'

However, it said Tata Steel's announcement on Monday that 1,050 jobs would go at steelworks across the UK, including 750 in Port Talbot, was a "stark reminder of the challenges to Wales in a global market".

"The Welsh government has a strong relationship with industry in Wales, working in close partnership over many years," a spokesman said.

"We will continue working tirelessly to provide support during this challenging time."

Keith Palmer, chief executive of of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said the figures gave a "ray of light at a time of major uncertainty in the Welsh economy", showing the jobs market in Wales outperforming the UK's over the last year.

"This matches the findings of our quarterly economic survey which showed that Welsh businesses consistently increased their workforce throughout 2015," he added.

Image copyright ONS

Analysis by Sarah Dickins, BBC Wales economics correspondent

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The quality of jobs rather than the number of jobs is an economic measure for Wales

At various points in the past jobless figures have been the main indicator for the economy. Now it is more complex than that, especially in Wales.

The Welsh economy is now typified as having more people working, but lagging even further behind the UK average in terms of productivity as measured by Gross Valued Added (or GVA).

Our economy is weaker than the rest of the UK in many ways but it is not because there are not the jobs but because of the quality of the jobs that we are doing and the value of what we make and do.

A few years ago Wales was in the position of being the only part of the UK with fewer workers than 12 months earlier, that has now changed and in fact had the greatest increase in employment between September and November compared with the same time a year earlier.

The challenge is to improve the types and productivity of jobs across Wales. The news of many hundreds more jobs going in the steel sector will not help that.

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