Unemployment in Wales has gone up in the three months leading up to February and now stands at 123,000.

One of the reasons this figure isn't much, much higher is due to the furlough scheme also known as the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme.

This pays 80% of the wages of employees whose roles are essentially not operating due to the ongoing pandemic.

Some people in Wales have now been on the scheme for over a year.

Tracey Hurst, 52, from Usk works as part of an airline crew on long haul flights and has now been furloughed for 14 months.

"To be honest when it first started I was sat around a pool in the Middle East and we were hearing all the news coming through and we were trying to work it out," she told WalesOnline. "I remember all of us saying it would be about three weeks or a month at the most! It's just unbelievable it's still going on."

Mrs Hurst says it has been a real mixture of emotions.

She said: "In the beginning you think it's really nice to go to bed at a reasonable time and not have to work through the middle of the night or be on 14 hour flights. It was a bit like a mini-break.

"But as time has gone on I think it is really difficult because you become a bit isolated. You have got no work around at all and no colleagues. After a month I got quite depressed about it actually because there is no structure. I've been doing it for 30 years.

"It's a big part of your social network just gone. If you go away for five days you are spending that whole time with those people. Because we were all based at Heathrow, but rest of your friends are scattered around the UK and Europe.

"Some of my closest friends are in Swindon but I haven't been able to see them because they have been able to travel to Wales and I haven't been able to go into England."

Tracey Hurst

She adds that it can be hard for people who haven't been furloughed to understand how isolating it can be.

"Even though I have been off all this time I still have people who who say 'I can't believe you are on furlough' and make a joke of it.

"I tell them it's not funny and it's really not nice being off work for so long. It's not about the pay. You don't do a job for 30 years without enjoying it and your job is part of your identity. You feel like you are worth nothing which is terrible an awful way to feel."

Mrs Hurst has said she has had to start applying for other jobs because she was unsure about what future the airline industry had.

Andrew Baldwin, 38 from Merthyr Tydfil is a shift running floor manager in Mcdonald’s

Elsewhere Andrew Baldwin has recently returned to his job as a shift running floor manager in Mcdonald’s, after spending ten months on furlough.

The 38-year-old spent much of the pandemic shielding in his Merthyr Tydfil home as he is considered to be clinically vulnerable following a kidney transplant which he had as a child.

“The first couple of weeks were fine, it was like everyone’s dream to be off work and get paid

“But the biggest challenge for me was that for the first four months I couldn’t see my daughter, I couldn’t come into contact with anyone, so I was just in the house by myself, seeing no one.

“It was just daunting then because I can’t come into contact with anyone, and it starts to eat away at you then that you’re just by yourself,” he said.

When does the furlough scheme come to an end?

The UK Government have confirmed that the furlough scheme will end on September 30.

How important is the furlough scheme to Wales?

There are currently 176,500 jobs furloughed in Wales.

This is a significant fall from the peak last spring when 247,300 were being 80% funded by the Treasury but is also quite a lot more than the end of September when just 109,600 before the second wave fully kicked in.

This graph shows how the number of jobs furlough has changed:

Not all parts of Wales have been equally affected.

WalesOnline has compared the amount of jobs furloughed in each local authority compared to the population of that authority:

As you can see, the four areas most affected are all in the north of Wales. It is important to bear in mind that these figures took into account total population so the actual percentage of working age adults furloughed would be higher. It is also worth noting that these are the amount of jobs furloughed. If someone works two full time jobs they will be there twice.

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Women are also more likely to be on the furlough scheme than men:

You can read a full analysis of how women have been disproportionally hit by the pandemic here.