Employment - but what kind?
It appears Wales is leading the way in terms of job creation.
As part of the launch of a further £1.8 billion in EU grant aid for the West and Valleys, Danuta Hübner, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, has congratulated the Welsh Assembly Government.
She said, “The Welsh Convergence ERDF programme 2007-2013 is even more ambitious than the 2000-2006 ERDF programme with 70 per cent of investment being earmarked for jobs and sustainable growth. This strategy is already working in Wales – parts of North Wales now have the highest employment rates in the entire EU."
Which begs the question - if we're creating all these jobs, why are we still one of the poorest parts of the EU?
That much is clear from the fact that much of Wales qualifies for the EU grant aid because it is below 75% of the average EU GDP.
Two answers spring to mind - one is that much of the job creation is low-paid and unskilled. The real boom in jobs in North Wales is among minimum wage workers, many of them migrant workers. The only boom has been for gangmasters, low-wage bosses and landlords who pack Poles into houses like sardines in a tin.
Second is that much of the EU aid is hoovered up by large institutions, consultants and government bodies with the resources to apply for these grants and the means to match fund them. Few community groups have such resources and most communities have little to show for the massive Objective One funding that was allegedly pumped into the area from 2000-6.