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Regional Profile of South West - Economy, June 2013

Released: 19 June 2013 Download PDF

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Unemployment rate in the South West and UK, Q4 2007 to Q4 2012

South West

South West had the lowest unemployment rate in Q4 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics


  1. Seasonally adjusted data for people aged 16 and over

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The South West had the lowest increase in unemployment rate between 2007 and 2012. The rates of business start-ups and businesses folding were the lowest of all the English regions in 2011.

The unemployment rate in the South West increased 1.8 percentage points from Q4 2007 to Q4 2012, the lowest increase along with London. At 5.5% in Q4 2012, the South West had the lowest unemployment rate among the regions of England and countries of the UK. Within the region, the unemployment rate was lowest in West Dorset at 3.2% and highest in Gloucester at 7.3% for the year to December 2012.

In 2011, the South West had the lowest business birth and death rates of all the English regions at 9.6% and 9.2% respectively. Subregionally, the business death rate in Swindon decreased from 11.4% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2011.

Recent data suggest the employment rate may have been rising, however the South West has not recovered from the earlier decline. The rate in Q4 2012 at 74.7% was 2.3 percentage points below the Q4 2007 figure.

The South West was responsible for 7.7% of the UK’s gross value added (GVA) in 2011 at £101.1 billion. More than half of this was produced by the Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area, which includes Swindon.

The latest productivity estimate, as measured by GVA per hour worked, was 93% of the UK rate in 2011. This is a slight decline relative to the UK compared with 2006. Subregionally, the only areas where relative productivity has risen are Swindon, Bristol, and Bournemouth and Poole.

Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of South West residents was the fourth highest among the English regions, at £16,000 per head in 2011. It ranged from £13,680 per head in Plymouth to £17,410 per head in Wiltshire.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Notes and sources:

    The data section of this release (939 Kb Excel sheet)  provides more Economy data.

    Business Demography 2011 includes definitions of business births (creation), business deaths (closure) and active enterprises. Further releases for businesses by region are available.

    Gross disposable household income (GDHI) covers the income received by households and non profit-making institutions serving households and is net of tax payments. The data are unsmoothed.
    Use the GDHI per head interactive map to see how it has changed over time at regional level.

    Gross value added (GVA) is a key measure of economic performance. The data used here are consistent with the workplace based series, which allocates the incomes of individuals to their place of work, but are unsmoothed data for individual years.
    GVA interactive charts and maps allow users to select different regions and industries and see their relative significance over the period from 1997 to the latest available year.

    Labour Market
    Employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates are seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey (LFS) headline indicators.
    Regional employment and economic inactivity rates are data for all people aged 16 to 64.
    Regional unemployment rates are data for all people aged 16 and over.
    Subregional employment data are from the Annual Population Survey (APS).
    Subregional unemployment data are from the Model-Based Estimates of ILO Unemployment for LAD/UAs, which uses APS and other data sources to calculate annual data every quarter. 
    Regional labour market statistics provides access to the latest key labour market figures.
    Nomis provides access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources.
    Labour market indicators are defined in the Glossary.
    Interpreting labour market statistics.
    Investigate how unemployment rates have changed over time at regional level.

    The Productivity handbook looks at measuring productivity at a regional level.
    Labour productivity provides access to the latest regional data.
    The Subregional productivity April 2013 article provides data at a subregional level.

  2. Further analysis:

    170 Years of Industrial change across England and Wales - 2011 Census statistics provide a rich source of information about the number, distribution and characteristics of the population in England and Wales. 2011 Census Analysis products present specific analyses on a variety of topics, including ethnicity, families, health, labour market, language, migration, and national identity, and religion. In particular, many of the analyses focus on geographical variations, changes over time, and how the census differs to other data sources.

    Regional Economic Indicators, March 2013 article discusses a selection of economic indicators in order to gain an overview of the economic performance of UK regions and countries. In this release a particular focus has been applied to how the regions/countries have fared through the economic downturn that began in 2008.

    The Spatial Distribution of Industries article investigates the patterns of spatial concentration of industries across Great Britain. Data tools and maps are provided for users to explore the data.

    Characteristics of Individual Insolvencies including Bankruptcies, England and Wales, 2011 article explores individual insolvency by region, local authority, age, gender and insolvency type. It is designed to highlight the type of analysis that can be carried out using individual insolvency data and how to use the individual insolvency data visualisation tool. Data on individual insolvency is published by the Insolvency Service.

    The Supply Side of Tourism - The Geography of Tourism Employment report details various aspects of the supply side of tourism. It includes a national level analysis of Gross Value Added (GVA), turnover and employment in the defined set of tourism industries. It also includes an estimate of employment in tourism industries for the regions and nations of the UK. The set of tourism industries used is based on international recommendations.

  3. You may use or re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email:
  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Further information

Regional Trends, No. 42, 2010 Edition - Portrait of the South West (Pdf 1468Kb) - The Portrait of the South West presents a wide range of information covering infrastructure, demographic, environmental and economic statistics for the region.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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