THE unemployment rate in Wales has dropped to its lowest level in a decade according to Labour market statistics released yesterday.

More than 1.4 million people are currently in work, a 10-year record high of 72.6 per cent.

The latest data shows 70,000 unemployed people in Wales, the lowest since early 2008, and the unemployment rate - the number of people able to work who are seeking employment - is now at its lowest since 2005.

A rate of 4.6 per cent means that Wales has the lowest unemployment figures in the UK, surpassing England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Overall the total number of employed people in the UK increased by 176,000, with the employment rate sitting at 74.4 per cent, another record high.

According to Rachel Evans, work services manager of Jobcentre Plus in Newport, there has been a 25 per cent reduction of 18 to 24 year olds claiming Job Seeker's Allowance in the city.

The total number of claimants in Newport has also decreased by 11 per cent.

Elsewhere in Gwent, there are similar signs of improvement in Monmouthshire where 18-24 claimants are down by 22 per cent and total claimants down by seven per cent.

In Torfaen, there are reductions of 10 per cent in both brackets while the rates of 18 to 24-year-olds and total claimants in Caerphilly are down by 14 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

Commenting on the new figures, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Wales is outperforming all other parts of the UK with the sharpest declining rate of unemployment over the past 12 months.

"We are ahead of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland with the fastest growing rate of employment over the last 12 months. Economic inactivity in Wales has also declined over the past year and quarter.

"As a pro-business government, we have been working hard to create the right economic conditions to help create and safeguard jobs right across Wales and our policies are continuing to reap the rewards."

Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, added: “Across Wales, a buoyant economy and changes to welfare are creating a climate where businesses and entrepreneurs feel confident to expand and take on staff.

"We are making the UK trade and industry team available to help Welsh businesses explore new markets and demonstrate that Wales is open for business."