From locking down to levelling up

The past, present and future of Welsh living standards

In this report, we take a deep dive into Welsh living standards. Wales has too often been overlooked in recent discussions about ‘levelling up’, and now policy makers also need to navigate the coronavirus crisis and its aftermath. We provide a detailed assessment of how the country has changed over the last few decades, and where it found itself on the eve of coronavirus, and consider the initial hit of the crisis on living standards.

Wales is one of the poorest areas of the UK and yet it is often overlooked in debates around tackling geographical inequalities. We show that the progress Wales has made in closing employment gaps is in contrast to stubbornly high pay, income and productivity gaps with the rest of the UK.

Wales faces a more immediate challenge in tackling fast rising unemployment. With a large concentration of young workers in low-paying sectors, creating new opportunities for younger generations and raising productivity, while also adapting to a rapidly ageing population, will hold the key to Wales to enjoying stronger living standards growth over the coming decade.