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Low pay and low house prices.

FIGURES contained in the North Wales and Cheshire Business Prospect report show that while unemployment across much of region continues to tumble, there remains a substantial pay differential between the area and other parts of the UK.

Unemployment last summer varied from 2.9pc in Wrexham to 7.5pc in Anglesey which, despite the efforts of Objective 1 programme partners and others, is still one of the blackspots in Wales. All-Wales unemployment averaged 3.9pc compared to 3.2pc for the UK. Cheshire's unemployment at that time was 1.9pc, with little deviance in individual local authority districts.

Ellesmere Port & Neston had a rate of 2.7pc, Warrington 2pc and Chester 1.6pc.

But average weekly gross earnings measured in April last year were as low as pounds 313 in Conwy, and pounds 331 in Gwynedd, showing how far Wales and its northern districts lag behind the rest of the UK.

Only Flintshire and Wrexham - with pay of pounds 395 and pounds 372 respectively - have earnings above the Wales average of pounds 368 and even they are less than the England average, pounds 416, and GB average, pounds 411.

Conwy's earnings are about a quarter below the England average.

The housing market continues to be fairly buoyant across the region. Halifax reported houses prices in Wales rose by 2pc in the third quarter of last year, giving an annual house price inflation of 11.2pc.

The average Welsh property price was pounds 69,342, with the average semi-detached prices in Q3 pounds 58,400 in Clwyd, pounds 69,750 in Gwynedd and pounds 60,500 in Wrexham. Cardiff and South Glamorgan boasted the highest house prices in the principality.

The average homebuyer spends around 17.5pc of gross annual income on mortgage payments, compared to a peak of almost 33pc in 1990.

As for Cheshire, average semi-detached house prices in Q3 were pounds 94,750 in Chester, pounds 85,900 in Warrington and pounds 100,600 in the county as a whole.

Liverpool city centre continued to see high demand for newly constructed apartments in redevelopment areas.

House prices across the North West were unchanged during the third quarter of 2001, averaging pounds 65,395. Annual rate of house price inflation was 5.8pc and the average buyer spent 17.7pc of gross annual income on the mortgage, compared to a 31pc peak 12 years ago.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 20, 2002
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