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Every weapon must be used to fight social catastrophe of unemployment; Western Mail.

IT WAS arguably too much to hope that the economic boom years of the past decade would lift Wales up to the level of prosperity enjoyed by more affluent parts of the UK.

But it is a sad fact that in this post-recession downturn Wales is falling further other parts of the country. We have seen the biggest fall in the employment rate among people of working age.

Unemployment is up by 16,000 on the quarter and employment is down by 26,000 - the equivalent of almost everyone who lives in the Snowdonia National Park area losing their job.

Rightly, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has pointed out that in recent months there were times when Wales was among the best performing regions and this monthly report on the state of the job market should not be looked at in isolation.

However, the overall picture is a deep cause for concern. The employment rate is 67.3% - 3.1 percentage points below the national average.

With an unemployment rate today of 9%, will we steer towards Scotland (7.9%) with the goal of one day matching the South East (5.8%) or will we drift into the unhappy territory occupied by the North East (11.3%)? The social and economic consequences of having nearly one in 10 of the Welsh workforce out of work are clear and distressing. The frustration and financial difficulty will inevitably have an impact on home life and relationships and our economy cannot afford to see labour go to waste.

Government ministers try to take credit for economic successes and are routinely blamed by failures but it is increasingly apparent that Britain is being rocked by economic forces over which it has minimal influence.

Prime Minister David Cameron has compared today's level of economic danger with the peril which faced the country in 2008, the year that Lehman Brothers collapsed. The consequences of not just Greece but, say, Italy, Spain and Portugal collapsing are almost too awful to contemplate.

The polarised political landscape in the US has pushed this supposed superpower towards jeopardy and Bank of England Governor Mervyn King laid bare the fears at the heart of the global financial elite when he said this could be the "most serious financial crisis" ever.

Confidence, even more so than cash, is the missing ingredient which is preventing the private sector from rescuing the situation.

Bold and creative investment by intelligent entrepreneurs has the potential to create jobs, restore markets, revive cash flow and spread prosperity through the UK. The enemy of recovery is despair and every weapon must be used to fight the social catastrophe of unemployment.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 13, 2011
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