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Background

The Annual Population Survey (APS) combines the boosted samples of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). It provides rolling four-quarter labour market data for UK countries and regions and also for local areas. For Wales, the APS consists of a sample of about 18,000 households every year.

The LFS remains the main source for headline labour market indicators at a Wales level. The larger sample of the APS allows for estimates at a local authority level and for sub-groups of the population.

The data for this period covers a full year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and therefore should be treated with caution given annual comparisons now compare to the beginning of the pandemic. In the Labour market overview, we have included analysis on data sources that are giving more timely indications on how the pandemic continues to affect the labour market in Wales.

Welsh Government are currently developing a more detailed analysis of protected characteristics in the labour market in Wales. This will be released later this year. We’d like to hear your views on what to include in this release, please contact economic.stats@gov.wales.

Re-weighting

Annual Population Survey (APS) responses are weighted to official population projections. The projections for 2020 were 2018-based, and, therefore, were based on demographic trends that pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic.

To allow for different trends during the pandemic the responses for the APS have been reweighted on the 9 September 2021 to new populations derived using growth rates from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information (RTI). The reweighting has been applied from year ending March 2020 data onwards and gives improved estimates of both rates and levels.

The changes ONS have made to the weighting should reduce the bias of estimates at high levels of aggregation. Some smaller breakdowns may be impacted negatively and more extreme changes could be seen given the reduced size of the underlying sample since the start of the pandemic.

The impact of reweighting is small for almost all the data presented in this release (below 0.2 percentage point change). However, the data for those aged 16 to 24, especially males, has changed significantly for some indicators. For example, the economic inactivity rate (excluding students) for males aged 16 to 24 was revised upward by 1.6 percentage points for the period year ending September 2020.

Employment

The employment rate for people aged 16 to 64 in Wales was 72.2% in the year ending March 2021, down 1.4 percentage points on the previous year as the coronavirus pandemic impacted the labour market across both Wales and the UK. The UK rate was 74.7%, down 1.2 percentage points over the year.

Since 2001, the employment rate has increased by 5.1 percentage points in Wales and by 2.4 percentage points in the UK.

The largest falls in employment rates over the year were Bridgend (down 5.9 percentage points to 70.2%), Gwynedd (down 5.7 percentage points to 69.8%) and Torfaen (down 4.3 percentage points to 69.5%).

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The employment rate for those aged 16 to 64 decreased in Wales and the UK to the lowest point in either series during the recession. Since then, the employment rate increased to both series' highest points in 2020 before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Employment data on StatsWales

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over in Wales was 4.0%, up 0.2 percentage points compared with the previous year. The UK rate was 4.8%, up 1.0 percentage points over the year.

Since 2001, the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.5 percentage points in Wales and by 0.2 percentage points in the UK.

The largest increases in unemployment over the year were in the Vale of Glamorgan (up 2.8 percentage points to 5.5%), Gwnyedd (up 2.3 percentage points to 5.1%) and Powys (up 2.0 percentage points to 4.9%).

Please note data for Denbighshire, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend and Blaenau Gwent have been suppressed due to inadequate sample size.

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The unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over increased to the highest point during the recession in Wales and the UK but has since fallen to series lows in 2020 before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment data on StatsWales 

Economic inactivity (excluding students)

The economic inactivity rate for people aged 16 to 64 in Wales was 20.5%, up 0.7 percentage points compared with the previous year. The UK was 17.4%, up 0.1 percentage points over the year.

Since 2001, the economic inactivity rate fell by 5.8 percentage points in Wales and by 4.1 percentage points in the UK.

The lowest estimated economic inactivity rates were in Vale of Glamorgan (15.0%), Cardiff (15.1%) and Monmouthshire (15.2%).

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The economic inactivity rate (excluding students) has been steadily decreasing since the beginning of the series in both Wales and the UK. The Welsh rate has always been higher than the UK rate, although the gap has narrowed until 2020 before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Economic inactivity data on StatsWales 

Youth statistics (aged 16 to 24)

Latest estimates from the Annual Population Survey suggest that young adults (aged 16 to 24), and in particular young males, were more heavily impacted in the labour market by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a larger fall in employment and a greater increase in economic inactivity compared with all adults.

Employment

The youth employment rate in Wales was 49.4%, down 4.3 percentage points compared to the previous year. The UK rate was 51.1%, down 2.9 percentage points compared to the previous year.

The youth employment rate for males suggest they were significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the rate decreasing in Wales by 7.6 percentage points compared to the previous year to 47.5%.

Young females were less impacted than males, with the employment rate decreasing 0.7 percentage points compared to the previous year to 51.5%. 

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The employment rate for those aged 16 to 24 in Wales is volatile for both genders, but generally decreased during the recession and increased over the last 10 years. The rate rarely differs between males and females except for the beginning of 2021 where the male rate significantly decreased.

Employment data on StatsWales

Unemployment

The youth unemployment rate in Wales was 10.8%, below the UK rate of 14.0%.

The youth unemployment rate for males was higher than females in Wales at 11.3% and 10.3% respectively.

The youth unemployment gender difference in Wales was 1.0 percentage points in the year ending March 2021, compared to 2.9 percentage points in 2001. The UK gap was 3.1 percentage points, unchanged compared to 2001.

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The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 in Wales is volatile for both genders but has generally decreased since the recession. The gap between the male and female rate has also narrowed over the last 10 years.

Unemployment data on StatsWales

Economic inactivity (excluding students)

The youth economic inactivity rate in Wales was 23.2%, up 2.0 percentage points compared to the previous year. The UK rate was 17.5%, down 0.2 percentage points over the year.

The youth economic inactivity rate for males increased by 8.7 percentage points compared to the previous year, where the rate for females decreased 5.8 percentage points.

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The economic inactivity rate (excluding students) for females aged 16 to 24 in Wales has generally decreased throughout the series. Whereas, the male rate has generally increased. In the year ending March 2021, the female rate fell below the male rate for the first time ever in the series.

Economic inactivity data on StatsWales  

Long-term unemployment

27.3% of unemployed people in Wales had been unemployed for 12 months or more. This compares with 20.9% in the UK.

The proportion of unemployed people in Wales who have been unemployed for 12 months or more increased by 3.9 percentage points compared to 2001.

35.3% of unemployed males in Wales had been unemployed for 12 months or more, up 5.0 percentage points over the year. This compares with 23.7% in the UK.

17.3% unemployed females in Wales had been unemployed for 12 months or more, down 4.0 percentage points over the year. This compares with 17.3% in the UK.

Disability status

Disabled people in Wales were more impacted in the labour market by the pandemic than non-disabled people, with the employment rate falling by 2.7 percentage points on the previous year, compared to a fall of 1.6 percentage points for non-disabled people.

Similarly, the unemployment rate and economic inactivity rate increased more for disabled people to 8.7% and 48.8% respectively. This compared to 3.2% and 17.8% for unemployment rate and economic inactivity rate respectively for non-disabled people in Wales.

Ethnicity

The employment rate for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people aged 16 to 64 in Wales increased 1.4 percentage points over the year to 64.6%. This compared to 72.7% for white people, down 1.5 percentage points over the year.

The Welsh economic inactivity rate for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people aged 16 to 64 was 33.5%, down 0.2 percentage points over the year. This compared to 24.2% for white people aged 16 to 64 in Wales, up 1.4 percentage points over the year.

Quality and methodology information

Relevance

The labour market in Wales can be measured by both the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS combines the boosted samples of the LFS. It provides rolling four-quarter labour market data for UK countries and regions and also for local areas. For Wales, the APS consists of a sample of about 18,000 households every year. The larger sample of the APS allows for estimates at a local authority level and for sub-groups of the population.

The LFS remains the main source for headline labour market indicators at a Wales level, and the data are updated monthly. The latest LFS data is published by the Welsh Government each month in the labour market overview release. This release combines LFS data with other data sources (including the APS) to provide a more detailed commentary on the labour market in Wales. ONS also publish a monthly labour market overview release which provides an overview of the labour market for the UK as a whole and an additional release which provides an overview of the labour market across the regions and countries of the UK.  

This release brings together the latest key APS statistics relating to the Welsh labour market with a more detailed commentary on the regions in Wales and the protected characteristics of people within the Welsh labour market.   

The statistics in this release are used by the Welsh Government to monitor the headline statistics for the Welsh labour market as well as providing comparisons to the UK labour market.  This release is also used to monitor progress against some of the targets in Welsh Government’s Employability Plan. The release complements the Welsh Economy in Numbers dashboard, which provides a broad picture of the Welsh economy and labour market.  

This release is used by other public sector organisations, businesses, academia and private individuals as a means of identifying the key trends in the headline economic and labour market statistics for Wales. Our 2012 user consultation provides more information on how our outputs are used.  

The Welsh Government is considering how best to meet user need for analysis of the labour market by protected characteristics. Data is currently available on StatsWales and Nomis.

Accuracy

The data presented in this release is based on sample surveys, therefore is subject to sampling variability. This means the data is subject to differing degrees of sampling variability, i.e., the true value for any measure lies in a differing range about the estimated value. This range or sampling variability increases as the detail in the data increases, for example individual local authority data are subject to higher variability than Wales data.  

Estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity are available from both the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the APS. Estimates from the LFS are based on a rolling quarter and are updated monthly. LFS sample sizes are too low to produce reliable estimates for geographies below Wales level. Estimates from the APS are based on a rolling twelve months, updated each quarter. The APS uses a bigger sample than the LFS so is used to produce estimates for geographies in Wales. At Wales level, the APS is a slightly more robust measure than the LFS, but it is less timely and slower to adapt to changes in the labour market.  

The APS responses are weighted to official population projections. The projections for 2020 were 2018-based, and, therefore, were based on demographic trends that pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic.   

To allow for different trends during the pandemic the responses for the APS have been reweighted on the 9 September 2021 to new populations derived using growth rates from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information (RTI). The reweighting has been applied from year ending March 2020 data onwards and gives improved estimates of both rates and levels.

National Statistics status

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.

All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the UK Statistics Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate.

It is Welsh Government’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected of National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained, and reinstated when standards are restored.

The continued designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in March 2010 following a compliance check by the Office for Statistics Regulation. These statistics last underwent a full assessment against the Code of Practice in March 2010.

Since the latest review by the Office for Statistics Regulation, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, and have made the following improvements:

  • Changed to a HTML release for increased interactivity and increased accessibility for users.
  • Expanded the coverage of topics to include more detail about the headline labour market statistics, and added sections on youth employment and long-term unemployment.
  • Introduced a new section on the labour market by different protected characteristics.
  • Added charts which allow users to clearly see any trends and volatility in the data.

Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)

The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Act puts in place seven wellbeing goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before Senedd Cymru. The 46 national indicators were laid in March 2016 and this releases includes the following national indicator:

  • (21) percentage of people in employment

Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the wellbeing goals and associated technical information is available in the Wellbeing of Wales report.

This release includes, contextual indicators, namely the basket of indicators, presented in the Well-being report in the previous link.

As a national indicator under the Act they must be referred to in the analyses of local well-being produced by public services boards when they are analysing the state of economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being in their areas.

Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.

Contact details

Statistician: Melanie Brown
Telephone: 0300 061 6029
Email: stats.transport@gov.wales

Media: 0300 025 8099

National statistics

SFR 272/2021

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