There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate the links between material deprivation and poor overall wellbeing. Statistics for those living in deprived areas show on average a lower life expectancy, higher prevalence of poor mental health, higher unemployment, higher prevalence of crime and disorder and lower educational attainment. While the reasons for all these are complex, financial poverty, unemployment and low paid employment are common contributory factors. Good employment is the most common, and often the most effective means of providing a family with the finances needed to improve many areas of wellbeing[i].
It’s not just about the number of jobs that are available, but also what types of employment opportunities they offer, and how well they keep up with changes in the global economy as well as local priorities. Secure, well paid employment affects not just the economic well-being of individuals and communities, but can also help with mental well-being as it fosters a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging within society.
There are approximately 84,400 PAYE jobs[ii] within the area (46,000 in Conwy CB and 39,000 in Denbighshire) and 97,200 working residents (53,300 in Conwy CB and 43,900 in Denbighshire)[iii]. This is a mismatch of about 12,800 jobs, demonstrating that the local economy is not sufficient to support those who live here. The proportion of self-employed is relatively high – about 7,200 people or 11.0% of the working population in Conwy CB and 6,800 or 11.0% in Denbighshire (compared to 9.2% for Wales as a whole and about 10.2% for GB).[iv].
Data on commuting patterns show that about 9,600 people either live in Conwy CB and travel to Denbighshire for work or vice versa, which is around 10% of all working residents. This highlights the need for co-ordinated economic planning across both counties.
It is difficult to assess how much outward commuting is out of necessity when looking for better paid or higher status jobs, and how much is out of choice. However, perhaps as a result of the lack of employment opportunities locally, around 15,000 people (17% of the working population) travel out of Conwy and Denbighshire for employment. Most of these outward commuters travel to the neighbouring Welsh local authority areas (rest of North Wales and Powys), although an estimated 5,000 people travel to England for work[v].
In addition to the mismatch between number of jobs and number of working residents, the area has significantly lower average weekly wages for full-time jobs than the national average – £451 in Conwy CB and £501 in Denbighshire compared to £540 for GB as a whole[vi]. There are also higher proportions of part time jobs on offer in the area than the national average – 46% of employees in Conwy and 39% of employees in Denbighshire are part time, compared to 32% across Great Britain and 35% in Wales[vii].
The employment structure in the area differs from that of Great Britain as a whole.
In both Conwy and Denbighshire employment in the high skills, high wage sectors of information & communication, finance & insurance, professional, scientific & technical, and business administration & support services is relatively low, totaling just 11% of all employment compared to 24% across GB as a whole.
Reliance on public sector employment is relatively high at 28% across the area as a whole compared to 25% for Wales and 18% for GB. This difference is mainly driven by employment in the health sector, in particular due to the presence of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd which contributes significantly to the 27% of employment in that sector in Denbighshire.
In Conwy CB employment in manufacturing is well below the national rate at 3% compared to 8% for GB and 11% for Wales as a whole. The proportions of employment in the tourism related sectors of retail, accommodation & food services, and arts, entertainment & recreation are high – a total of about 32% of all jobs compared to 24% nationally. These sectors are the ones most likely to include low wage, part time or seasonal employment.
In Denbighshire manufacturing is around the GB level at 8%. Employment in the accommodation & food services is three percentage points above the national figure at almost 11%.
[i] Is Work Good For Your Health And Well-Being?, Department for Work and Pensions 2006
[ii] Business register and employment survey, Office for National Statistics
[iii] Annual population survey, Office for National Statistics
[iv] Annual population survey, Office for National Statistics
[v] Annual population survey, Office for National Statistics
[vi] Annual survey of hours and earnings, Office for National Statistics
[vii] Business register and employment survey, Office for National Statistics
The total number of PAYE jobs in Conwy CB and Denbighshire increased by 5000 (6%) between 2009 and 2015. Across Wales the number of PAYE jobs increased by 2.9% in the same period and by 5.7% for GB.
However, the increase wasn’t distributed equally across employment sectors or across the area. Whereas Conwy CB saw an increase of 6,000 jobs, the total number of jobs in Denbighshire decreased by about -1,000.
Some sectors saw declining job numbers – the highest losses since 2009 are in public administration & defence (-750), retail (-500) and wholesale (-300).
Change in employment sectors 2009-2015
Source: business register and employment survey, (NOMIS)
The health sector saw the biggest growth (about +1,350 jobs). Significant proportional growth can be seen in the property sector which has increased by 45% since 2009 (about 500 jobs). Other significant growth sectors since 2009 are professional, scientific and technical (+1,250), Motor trades (+600), Mining, quarrying and utilities (+525), construction (+500), business support/admin (+250, growth all in Conwy) and accommodation & food services (+1000, growth all in Conwy).
Our commuting patterns are currently very similar to those of ten years ago.
The economy is incredibly difficult to predict, and is heavily influenced by national and international market conditions which are outside of the sphere of influence of nationally and, increasingly, internationally. In the next few years a significant influence is likely to be the impact of the Brexit vote which offers both threats and opportunities for the local and national economy.
There are also current concerns regarding the possibility of national and global economic downturns, due to issues including the UK’s low productivity compared to competitors, the slowdown in growth in emerging economies such as China, and the fall in global oil prices
The local economy shows an over reliance on the public sector to provide employment. In a time of continued austerity and pressures on public spending, some of these jobs are under threat. There are also likely to be secondary effects from any contraction of public sector employment and/or services within the wider economy, as many local small business and trades people base much of their business on the supply of good and services to larger public sector organisations.
People would like to see employment and business opportunities capable of providing prosperity, providing access to goods and services locally, and retaining or attracting young people to live in the area.
People would like to see:
• Better quality and higher paid jobs
• Companies “giving back” to communities
• Equality in employment, especially pay
• Support for local businesses with reduced rates, rents and better lease terms
Concern was raised over the lack of a diverse range of job opportunities, outside of the tourism and hospitality sectors, and the seasonality of many jobs. People also felt that there needed to be more job opportunities for those with disabilities. Respondents to the consultation also felt that more could be done to support key sectors such as Agriculture and Health.