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Wales, along with the rest of the UK, has experienced a cost living crisis: inflation has risen sharply to reach a high of 11.1% in October 2022, resulting in reductions in people's real incomes. As the increase in prices has been particularly concentrated in energy and food prices, the impact has been felt most severely by people on low incomes who spend a higher share of their budget on these goods, despite the measures put in place by the UK and Welsh Governments to protect the most vulnerable.
There was a slight fall in the employment rate in Wales in the year ending March 2023, whilst the UK rate rose slightly. Economic inactivity rose during 2022 and the beginning of 2023 with inactivity due to ill health at historically high levels.
A national milestone on participation in education and the labour market was set in 2021 which is that at least 90% of 16 to 24 year olds will be in education, employment, or training by 2050. Provisional estimates for 2021, show a decrease in young people’s participation in education and the labour market, driven by an increase in the economic inactivity rate (excluding students) for 16 to 18 year olds. It is too soon to assess the full impact of the pandemic on this trend.
In April 2022, the (full-time) gender pay gap was 6.1%, increasing from 4.4% the previous year. The disability pay difference was 9.7% meaning that disabled employees in Wales earned, on average, £1.32 less per hour than non-disabled employees. This has narrowed by £0.13 (1.7 percentage points) compared to the previous year.
In 2022, the ethnicity pay difference was £2.23 an hour (or 16.8%), meaning that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees in Wales earned, on average, £2.23 less per hour than White employees. The pay difference has widened by £1.38 (9.9 percentage points) compared to the previous year.
Our global footprint is the total environmental burden that society places on the planet. The national milestone for the global footprint indicator is that Wales will only use its fair share of the world’s resources by 2050. Recent estimates suggest that the global footprint per person reduced by nearly a third between 2004 and 2018. However, this remains over twice the estimated biocapacity of Wales. If the entire world population lived like the citizens of Wales, humanity would require 2.08 Earths.
The latest comprehensive assessment of Welsh natural resources (SoNaRR 2020) shows that overall, biological diversity is declining. The national milestone on biodiversity is to reverse the decline in biodiversity with an improvement in the status of species and ecosystems by 2030 and their clear recovery by 2050. An experimental indicator on the status of biological diversity in Wales published in 2021 showed that the distribution of species in Wales has declined over the long term but has been stable more recently.
Wales has seen decreases in waste generation and considerable improvements in recycling rate, but we continue to use up resources faster than they can be replenished.
The national milestone on healthy life expectancy is to increase the healthy life expectancy of adults and narrow the gap in healthy life expectancy between the least and the most deprived by at least 15% by 2050. The data shows healthy life expectancy continues to be worse for those living in more deprived areas but has remained relatively stable between 2011-13 and 2018-20.
The national milestone is to increase the percentage of adults with two or more healthy behaviours to 97% by 2050. In 2022-23 the majority (92%) of adults reported following two or more of the five healthy lifestyle behaviours.
The national milestone is to increase the percentage of children with two or more healthy behaviours to 94% by 2035 and more than 99% by 2050. The data shows the percentage of young people meeting the national milestone in 2021 was 90%, slightly higher than the 88% reported in 2019 and 2017.
The national milestone on mental wellbeing is to improve adult and children’s mean mental wellbeing and eliminate the gap in between the most and least deprived areas in Wales by 2050. Adult average mental wellbeing was broadly unchanged this year, however, due to the difference in data collection modes, it is difficult to draw longer term comparisons for this indicator.
Between 2019-20 and 2021-22, over a fifth of the population (21%) were living in relative income poverty after paying their housing costs.
Girls continue to achieve better educational outcomes at GCSE. In summer 2022, girls were awarded more grades at A*-C than boys. The largest grade disparity was at the A* and A grade: girls were awarded 6.5 and 4.5 percentage points, respectively, more than boys. The grade disparity at A* widened in 2022.
There remains a gap in educational outcomes of children in school eligible for free school meals and those who are not, with the gap at GCSE level widening in the last 6 years.
In 2022-23, life satisfaction scores continued to be similar to pre-pandemic levels for all age groups except those aged 16 to 24 years and 25 to 44 years. People aged 16 to 24 are still more likely to report being lonely than those aged 65 and over. Other than young people, there are some other groups who are more likely to report feeling lonely. These include disabled people with a limiting long-standing impairment, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Community cohesion indicators had been broadly stable since first collected in 2012 until a sizeable increase in 2020-21. The same year also saw a positive step change in people feeling they can influence local decisions. Whether the increases in 2020-21 and 2021-22 will be sustained will not become clear until data is available for a number of future years.
The national milestone to have 30% of people volunteering has been reached this year but will need to be sustained. Volunteering increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2022-23 results show this higher level has been maintained (from 26% in 2019-20, to 29% in 2021-22 and 30% in 2022-23).
There was little change this year in the number of households that approached their local authority for support as they were threatened with homelessness. But there was an increase in the number of households assessed as homeless and the number of households in temporary accommodation in 2022-23 compared to 2021-22.
More adults are taking part in sport regularly this year. 39% of adults said they take part in sport three of more times a week. There was a fall in the percentage who said they did no sport or physical activity – down from 44% in 2021-22 to 40% this year.
Fewer children are taking part in regular sport outside of school. 39% of pupils took part in organised sport three or more times a week in 2022, down by 9 percentage points from the last survey in 2018.
The number and percentage of people able to speak Welsh fell according to Census 2021, with the percentage now the lowest ever recorded in a census. There is a national milestone for one million Welsh speakers by 2050. According to the census, 538,000 people were able to speak Welsh in 2021, down from close to one million in 1911.
In 2021, it was estimated that greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere directly from within Wales totalled 36.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), an increase of 7% from 2020.