This briefing sets out analysis of the ONS labour market statistics for Wales, released on the morning of 11th August 2020. The data cover the number of people claiming benefits up to July 2020, and the employment figures for the period April to June 2020.

David Hagendyk, Director of Learning and Work Institute Cymru, said
Although on the surface there has been relatively little change it is clear that with the furlough scheme starting to unwind and with a series of redundancy announcements already made, Wales is facing a jobs crisis that is unprecedented since the start of devolution in 1999. “The latest jobs figures confirm that claimant count has more than doubled since the start of the crisis, with over 60,000 more people now on payroll unemployed. That figure is likely to rise substantially once businesses are no longer able to access support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The data also confirms that those areas that went into the crisis with the highest levels of unemployment are amongst those hit the hardest since it began.

Coronavirus crisis has triggered the biggest jobs crisis of the devolved era of government

With claimant count in Wales standing at more than 120,000, this is the biggest jobs crisis since before devolution started more than twenty years ago. Claimant count has more than doubled since the start of the crisis, rising from 58,576 in March to 120,870 in July. The level is now three times higher than the record low under devolution (38,000 in February 2008).


Figure 1 – The claimant count in Wales the highest ever since devolution began



Figure 2 – claimant count levels rates comparing Wales and the whole of the UK

Figure 2


The trend in Wales continues to broadly mirror that of the UK as a whole, although the overall claimant count rate started out higher in Wales and that remains the case now.  While the full picture has still to emerge we have compiled new graphs to illustrate how the changes in employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity (between this year and last year) in Wales compare with other nations and with English regions.


Figure 3 – changes in employment across the nations and regions

Figure 3


Figure 4 – changes in unemployment in nations and regions

Figure 4


Figure 5 – changes in economic inactivity in nations and regions

Figure 5

Local authorities with highest levels of unemployment going into the crisis have faced some of the sharpest rises

The local authorities with the highest claimant count levels going into the crisis are positioned on the right of the graph. These areas, such as Newport, Blaenau Gwent, and Merthyr Tydfil, have seen some of the biggest rises since March. The local authority that has experienced the largest rise since March is Conwy in North Wales.

Figure 6


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