Labour Statistics

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th February 1988.

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Photo of Mr Gwilym Jones Mr Gwilym Jones , Cardiff North 12:00 am, 29th February 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many people were in employment in 1979 and at the latest available date in (a) Cardiff and (b) Wales.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

The latest available figure for numbers in employment in Wales is 1,021,000 at September 1987. The figure is derived from a Department of Employment quarterly series of employees and the annual labour force survey of some 3,000 households in Wales. The corresponding figure for September 1979 was 1,160,000. There is no comparable information on employment in Cardiff.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Jones Mr Gwilym Jones , Cardiff North

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the numbers in employment are at least as valid as the statistics for unemployment? Can he assure me that the surveys to which he referred are sufficiently accurate and that there are now much better rates for finding jobs for the long-term unemployed and school leavers, which are two important areas?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

It is difficult to assess accurately. The figures are the result of a survey of 3,000 households, which has been the consistent survey over that period of years. On the matter of employment prospects, one of the most interesting figures is the enormous percentage increase that has taken place over the past 15 months in jobs advertised in the main Welsh newspapers.

I am delighted to tell my hon. Friend that the fall in long-term unemployment in Wales over the past 12 months has been greater than in any other region of the country, as has the fall in Welsh youth unemployment.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Has the Secretary of State noticed that the earnings of those in employment in Wales have sunk to next to bottom of the league table in the United Kingdom because of the loss of high-wage steel and coal jobs and their replacement with low-wage, retail, part-time jobs? Is that worrying the Welsh Office and, if so, what is it doing about it? Is it content to see Wales as a low-wage economy?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

No, Sir. I am delighted, as, no doubt, is the hon. Gentleman, about the substantial number of manufacturing firms that have been opening in Wales during the last period. There is no doubt that the trend, both in service and manufacturing industries, as many more firms come into Wales and many existing firms expand, is very good for earnings in Wales.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley

Will the Secretary of State tell us what prospects there are for my constituents, who have the highest male unemployment rate in Wales? There are no job vacancies registered at the job centre and closure of Lady Windsor colliery at Ynysybwl will push up male unemployment to 34 per cent. Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the coal industry and the Government have some responsibility for the social consequences in my area when that closure occurs and unemployment reaches those drastic proportions?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

That is why I am pleased that the Welsh Development Agency will have much more money to spend on advance factories than before. I am pleased that the British Coal Enterprise company is continuing its activities and I know that it will concentrate its activities on those areas where pit closures are taking place.

Mr. Alan Williams:

Does the Secretary of State not realise that the figures that he has just announced show that there were 122,000 more people at work in June 1979 than there were in June last year? Indeed, if one leaves out the self-employed, the figure was 170,000 more. Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree—

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

That figure included the self-employed.

Mr. Williams:

The right hon. Gentleman was not listening. I gave a figure including the self-employed, and then gave a figure excluding the self-employed. Does he not agree that last week's Government figures show that between June 1983 and June 1987—the period covered by those figures—Wales was the only region in the United Kingdom to see a fall in the combined numbers of employed and self-employed?

With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's point about the unemployment figures. I note that he suddenly switched to the long-term unemployed. Will he confirm that the latest unemployment figures show that over the past 12 months Wales has seen its rate of change fall below that of the national average and trail behind that of five other regions of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

The right hon. Gentleman's desire always to depict—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question"]. He really should have the answers. I am delighted to say that the figures for youth unemployment and for long-term unemployment in Wales were the best of any region in the country in the past 12 months. [Interruption.] I am also delighted to say that 1987 was a year of record inward investment. The right hon. Gentleman is now becoming the one lonely voice in Wales who thinks that things are going badly for Wales.