THE number of people in work in Wales rose by around 12,000 during October-December last year, compared to the same period in 2015, new figures show.

But the figure for October-December - 1,440,000 - was down 19,000 on that for the previous quarter, July-September.

The latest Labour Market Statistics from the Office for National Statistics also show that the unemployment benefits claimant count in Wales fell during the final quarter of 2016, by 3,200 compared to the same period in 2015, and by 2,700 compared to July-September last year.

There were contributions to the claimant count fall from four areas of Gwent.

In Caerphilly there was a 15 per cent year-on-year reduction last month (to 3,135 claimants); in Torfaen there was a 14 per cent reduction (to 1,240 claimants); in Newport, the reduction was seven per cent (to 2,870 claimants); and in Monmouthshire the reduction was four per cent (to 670 claimants).

Newport Job Centre manager Rachel Evans said the Caerphilly and Torfaen results in particular “are fantastic to see” but she stressed that overall the results are very pleasing.

“The amount of people claiming benefits is falling,” she said.

Responding to the quarterly Wales figures, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green, said: “With employment at its highest rate since records began, and unemployment at its lowest in over a decade, we remain in a position of strength.

“Our ongoing welfare reforms will continue to incentivise work and make sure the system is fair to all those who need it and those who pay for it.

“There’s good news in Wales, where employment is continuing to rise with 12,000 more people in work in the last year alone, bringing employment in Wales to a near record high of 1.44 million.

“Female unemployment in Wales is at a near record low of 23,000.”

UK-wide, there were 31.8m people in work, during October-December, 37,000 more than for July-September last year, and 302,000 more than for a year earlier.

There were 23.3m people working full-time, 218,000 more than for a year earlier.

There were 8.55 million people working part-time, 84,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate - the proportion of people aged 16-64 who were in work - was 74.6 per cent, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.