The State of Britain

The wealthiest area of Wales was Sketty in Swansea, the poorest was east Cardiff, all of the country’s economic regions record productivity below the UK average

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The ONS has published average household disposal income estimates for England and Wales in 2018. The incomes shown are after tax and housing costs are taken off.  The analysis has shown that 87% of local areas had an average household income of between £22,500 and £39,200; within this over a third were between £28,000 and £33,600.

Of the 50 areas with the highest total incomes, 41 were in London with the lowest incomes more widely spread geographically across England and Wales. The North East, East England, London, and the South East had no local areas in the bottom 50.

The wealthiest area in England and Wales was Mickleover in Derby with incomes of £52,200 and the poorest was Highfield North in Leicester at £12,500. The two areas are 30 miles from each other and ranked 7200 places apart.

The wealthiest area of Wales was Sketty in Swansea with £39,600. This ranked the area 203rd out of the 7,201 areas recorded. The poorest part of the country were areas of eastern Cardiff with £13,900. This area was ranked 7,195 out of the 7,201 areas of the UK recorded.

Like most regions of the UK, output per hour in Wales is below the UK average. Productivity per hour in the country was 17% below the UK average which ranked the country bottom nationally for 2018. One reason for this is the high levels of hours worked and high productivity in London and South East which pulls up the UK average so much that all other regions fall below it.

The ONS has now released data for a longer period and at a subregional level. This gives further insight into the Welsh performance.

Perhaps the most useful is the 2018 results for the 44 enterprise regions in the UK which comprise the 38 English local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and six enterprise regions in Scotland, Wales and the border regions.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP had the best productivity (in terms of hours and jobs) in 2018 at 35% above the UK average whereas the Black Country LEP at 24% below was the worst.

Unsurprisingly all three of the country’s economic regions recorded productivity below the UK average. South East Wales was the best and was ranked 22nd at 10% below, North Wales and Mid and South West Wales were ranked 41st and 42nd at c13% below. Only Cornwall and the Black Country LEPs were ranked lower.

In terms of productivity growth between 2010 and 2018 the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP was top with growth of 16%. Twelve economic regions recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010. The worst performer was the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP which saw productivity drop by 11%.

The country’s results for productivity growth were more mixed. With growth of 5% South East Wales was the eleventh best in the UK and Mid and South West Wales ranked 16th nationally with growth of 3%. But North Wales recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010; at -4% the region was ranked 40th.

The country’s two subregions recorded productivity below the UK average with East Wales 14% below and West Wales and The Valleys -20%.

At county level, all Wales’s economic regions recorded productivity below the UK average, the only part of the UK to do so. Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan was the best at -4% with Powys the lowest in the UK at -43% below the UK average.

The growth in hours worked between 2010 and 2018 in East Wales was 14%, beating West Wales and The Valleys which recorded 8%. The level of growth in East Wales ranked eleventh in the UK’s 40 subregions.

If the increase in economic output is also factored in then the sub regional performances are reasonable. West Wales and The Valleys was ranked 16th in the UK with growth of 4% and East Wales was placed 27th with 2%.

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the country was 3,000 lower at 51,000 between November and January; the 0.2% drop took the overall rate to 3.3%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.4%, the NE the highest at 6.2%, with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 80% which compared with 74.4% in Wales where 1.5m are employed; the UK rate was 76.5%.

The Welsh average property price fell by 2.9%, the biggest drop in the UK, to £161,719, which took the annual increase to 2.0%. In comparison, UK prices decreased by 1.1% to £231,185 during January, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.