Plaid bloggers and tweeters are full of themselves at the moment as to how well Ieuan Wyn Jones is doing, as are some BBC commentators and if the Deputy First Minster is really responsible for the fact that Wales is bucking the trend then he deserves pluadits for it. However, things do not seem as straightforward as that.
The latest statistics show a rise in unemployment for the whole of the UK to 2.43 million, the highest level since summer 1995, with 220,000 jobs lost, yet in Wales there was a quarterly fall in the number of people out of work in the three months to June. But, as Jenny Randerson points out below the actual number of people in real jobs as opposed to the those registered as officially unemployed, fell by nearly a whole percentage point in the last quarter. In addition, those who are economically active (meaning they are over sixteen and contributing to GDP) has fallen by 0.8% leaving Wales the third worst place in the UK.
So if these people are no longer on the unemployment register and they are not employed or economically active in any other way, then where are they? Have they left Wales, gone onto invalidity benefit or just working in the black market? Maybe Plaid Cymru can answer that question before we start throwing garlands around the neck of the Economy and Transport Minister.
Leanne Wood quite rightly highlights another issue that needs to be addressed in this morning’s Western Mail. The number of workers earning less than the minimum wage is increasing and yet not a single employer has been prosecuted. How many of those who have come off the unemployment register have found their way into that group?
I think that these statistics throw enough doubt on the claims of Ieuan Wyn Jones’ fan club for the time being to say that the jury is still out on his performance as a Minister. We must not forget of course that in the time he has been in post unemployment in Wales has increased considerably. If however they can answer the questions in this post satisfactorily then I am happy to revise that view.