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Welsh Secretary economy talks with business leaders

The Head of Toyota on Deeside to join business leaders to discuss economy Credit: PA

Business leaders from some of Wales' largest businesses - including the boss of Toyota on Deeside, which employs around 600 people - are meeting the Welsh Secretary today to discuss the state of the economy.

It's an opportunity for them to discuss what they're doing to help workers, boost business and drive up jobs in Wales.

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'Staggering growth' in farmland prices

The cost of Welsh farmland rose to £7,250 per acre in the first six months of this year Credit: Frank May/PA

The cost of Welsh farmland rose to £7,250 per acre across the country in the first six months of 2013, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The latest RICS Rural Land Market Survey found that the growth was driven by the ongoing surge in demand from both farmers and investors.

Ben Collins, RICS Wales director, said: "The growth in farmland prices in recent times has been nothing short of staggering. In less than 10 years we've seen the cost of a square acre of farmland grown to such an extent that investors - not just farmers - are entering the market.

"And, if commodity prices continue to increase and keep demand high, we could see this trend continuing, with cost per acre going through the £10,000 barrier within the next two to three years."

David Powell, of Powells, Monmouth, said: "There is continued demand for good, well located blocks of good land close to farming base of purchasers. Good grazing/mowing land and arable land selling well and at premium values where local demand is strong."

Increase in number of shoppers hitting Welsh High Streets

Footfall rose by one per cent over the past year Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

High streets across Wales saw more shoppers in July than a year ago - they were up by almost one per cent. This is the fourth month since the start of the year to report positive footfall growth.

The number of empty shops is also going down - the vacancy rate for the year to April dropped two per cent to 15.9 per cent. The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK is 11.1%

John Munro, of the Welsh Retail Consortium said: "It's encouraging to see that the number of vacant shops in Welsh town centres has edged down from the record high of the previous quarter.

"The rate is still well above the UK average, but it's moving in the right direction and suggests that recent upward shifts in consumer confidence and the general economic outlook are starting to filter through to our high streets."

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Shrinking wages 'hitting' living standards

Over the last five years, workers in Wales have taken a massive hit in their pay packets, while thousands more have had to reduce their hours or take lower paid work. Many people have lost their jobs altogether.

Taken together, our pay and jobs crises have shrunk Britain's total annual pay packet by more than £50bn, with workers in Wales losing £2.3 billion altogether. It's no wonder businesses are struggling when so much demand has been sucked out of the economy.

Shrinking wages are hitting people's living standards, holding back businesses and damaging our growth prospects.

– Martin Mansfield, Wales TUC General Secretary

Welsh pay packets down 8.1%

The TUC is launching its Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Welsh pay packet has fallen by 8.1 % since the recession began in 2008, according to the TUC, with total pay across Wales falling by more than £2.3bn. The union has released figures on the Welsh economy to coincide with the launch of its Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign.

The TUC says wages failing to keep pace with inflation, reduced working hours and the replacement of middle and relatively well-paid public sector jobs with lower paid jobs in the private sector, have contributed to the fall.

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Health of the British economy sector by sector

This is how the different sectors of the British economy have performed in the first three months of this year:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing - Fell by 3.7 percent compared with 0.5 percent contraction in the previous quarter.
  • Construction - Output decreased by 2.5 percent capping off a 5.9 percent decrease in the year to March 2013.
  • Production - Grew by 0.2 percent following a decrease of 2.1 percent in the previous quarter. This growth was driven by mining and quarrying, and electricity supply.
  • Services - 0.6 percent growth was the driving force behind the growth in overall GDP. This picture of positive growth was seen across the sector.
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