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24th October 2023

Increasing inactivity a worrying sign

The ONS has released the latest employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics.

Oliver Carpenter, Policy Manager at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:

“The latest employment data shows a reversal of recent trends, with an increase in the number of people who are economically inactive. This is particularly concerning news for Welsh businesses and productivity as Wales has one of the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA) per hour worked in the UK. One in six high street shops are currently shut in Wales, and in some areas like Newport, that figure is one in three.

“Productivity and access to employment, in addition to the ongoing skills crisis, are key contributors to the rise in economic inactivity. Welsh and UK policymakers need to collaborate to ensure that Wales can achieve the skills and find the employees it needs in order for the economy to flourish, including on policies that allow people to return to work.”

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“It’s disappointing to see the number of economically inactive again ticking up, reversing recent trends.  Employers need substantial flows of people back into job seeking and employment.

“The ONS data also shows vacancies remain well above pre-pandemic levels and wages outpacing inflation.

“Underneath these headline figures the skills crisis continues and the overall picture remains challenging. The Chancellor should introduce tax breaks in the Autumn Statement to help firms invest more in training and Occupational Health benefits.

“We need to tackle skills shortages, keep people in work and help those who want to work back into employment.”

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