16 September 2011

Unemployment up in Wales

Enterprise zones doomed; invest in jobs, not business handouts

Figures released today show unemployment in Wales has leapt by more than half a percentage point to 8.4% over the past quarter. Over ten thousand people are on jobseekers' allowance in Cardiff

One recently-unemployed young Cardiff worker told Socialist Party Wales, "I feel like I'm stuck jumping from one part-time temporary job to the next, never earning enough to support myself and my partner, and with the shortness of full-time jobs out there, I'm always wondering where I'll be in a couple of months time and whether I'll still be stuck on benefits, unable to afford anything other than bills and rent. The job centres are over-run with unemployed, and for a lot of those people, it doesn't look like it's going to improve any time soon. My ultimate aim at the moment is just to get out of the benefits system."

The unemployment announcement puts paid to Labour's claims to have better solutions than the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in England, where unemployment increased by a comparable amount.

Both Tory viceroy Cheryl Gillan and Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones have advocated enterprise zones as a solution to the employment problem. But extensive research, much of which was done on the Swansea enterprise zone in the 1980s, has shows that 80% of "new" jobs in enterprise zones are stolen from neighbouring areas: the First Minister's plans for a Cardiff enterprise zone would further impoverish Newport, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Pontypridd and other parts of South Wales which have faced long term decline ever since Thatcher's and Blair's governments cut out the heart of the Welsh economy.

Meanwhile, the same research shows that those few jobs that enterprise zones do create come at the cost of £40,000 each to the public purse, two-thirds of which goes into the pockets of company directors. A far better use of money would be direct government investment in job creation, which would have the added benefit of ensuring that new jobs would be socially-useful ones like teaching, infrastructure or environmentally-sustainable energy.

The Welsh Government must not copy Thatcher's failed experiments. The only proven way to restore prosperity to the Welsh economy is through public investment and democratic planning, so we can have an economy that suits the needs of the average person not the wealthy.

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