A summary article has been published detailing some of the key points highlighted in this release.
Other key points emerging within the Regional Economic Indicators article are:
Regional output (GVA)
Nominal gross value added (GVA) increased between 2011 and 2012 for all regions and countries except for the East Midlands which was broadly flat. The South East saw the greatest increase in its total GVA, increasing by 3.3% from £196 billion in 2011 to £203 billion in 2012.
GVA growth between 2009 and 2012 was strongest in London, rising 11.1%, and weakest in Northern Ireland, rising by 3.4%.
London saw its share of UK GVA rise from 19.8% in 1997 to 22.8% in 2012. Over the same period, almost every other region and country saw a very slightly declining share of UK GVA.
In 2012, London and the South East were the only regions which were more productive than the UK average (by 31.2% and 7.7% respectively). The least productive country as measured by GVA per hour worked was Northern Ireland which was 17.2% below the UK average.
There was a slight narrowing of the gap between the most and least productive between 2011 and 2012, London’s productivity fell by 3.3 percentage points and Northern Ireland’s productivity rose by 1.7 percentage points.
The labour market
Since 2007, the South East, South West and East of England consistently experienced the highest employment rates. The North East and Northern Ireland tended to have the lowest rates.
Between February to April 2013 and February to April 2014, the only statistically significant increases in the employment rate were in the North East, East Midlands, London and the South East.
The largest fall in unemployment between February to April 2013 and February to April 2014 was in the West Midlands (falling 1.9 percentage points from 9.4% to 7.5%).
London saw the highest percentage increase (15.8%) in workforce jobs between March 2007 and March 2014. The North East saw the largest percentage decline (-6.5%).
Income and Earnings
In 2012, London had the highest Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head at £21,446. The lowest GDHI per head was in the Northern Ireland (£13,902 per head).
Between 2002 and 2012, GDHI per head in London rose from 24.5% to 27.7% above the UK average. It fell in the East of England from 8.0% above to 5.0% above the UK average and in the South East from 16.9% above to 13.9% above the UK average.
In 2013, London had the highest median full-time weekly earnings at £613 (residence based measure) and £658 (workplace based measure). Northern Ireland had the lowest weekly earnings, £463 (residence based) and £460 (workplace based).
From 2010 to 2012, the East Midlands had the largest proportion of innovation active businesses, at almost 50%. Northern Ireland had the lowest share at 40%.
In 2012, business research and development (R&D) expenditure as a percentage of GVA was highest in the East of England (3.0%).
R&D expenditure as a percentage of GVA has more than doubled in Northern Ireland, from 0.6% in 2007 to 1.4% in 2012.
In 2012, London had the highest percentages of business births and business deaths as a share of active business enterprises (14.8% and 11.7% respectively). Northern Ireland had the lowest percentages of business births and deaths as a share of active business enterprises (7.0% and 9.4% respectively).
In every region and country except London, the percentage of business births as a share of active businesses was lower in 2012 than it was in 2007. In every region and country, the percentage of business deaths was higher in 2012 than it was in 2007.
In 2012, exports of goods as a percentage of GVA were highest in the North East (30.8%) and lowest in London (11.3%).
Between 2007 and 2012, Wales saw the largest percentage point increase in exported goods as a share of GVA, from 20.3% to 28.1%. Northern Ireland saw the smallest percentage point growth, from 18.4% to 19.1%.
Between 2007 and 2013, the absolute increase in value of goods exported to non-EU countries exceeded the increase to EU countries in every region and country.
Northern Ireland had the highest percentage of 16 to 64 year olds without any qualifications (17.2%) in 2013. The lowest rates were in the South East (6.5%) and the South West (6.6%).
London had the highest share of 16-64 year olds with NVQ level 4 or above (49.1%) and Northern Ireland and the North East had the joint lowest share (28.1%).
In 2012/13, amongst the English regions, London had the highest percentage of pupils leaving Key Stage 4 with five GCSE A* to C grades including maths and English (65.1%). The North East and East Midlands had the joint lowest percentage (59.3%).
To give an overview of the economic performance of UK regions and countries, this article discusses a selection of economic indicators. The article includes analysis of regional and country data on economic output, productivity, incomes and the labour market. The drivers of regional and country productivity are also discussed and regional and country data provided on innovation, enterprise, competition and skills. This article analyses long-term trends and changes in the latest available data.
This article uses data which allow comparisons across English regions and the devolved administrations of the UK. To this end, the data used are primarily produced by the Office for National Statistics. Alternative data are available directly from the devolved administrations on various topics including GVA and GDP, labour productivity and exports. These data are not available on a comparable basis for the English regions and as such have not been used in this article.
This Regional Economic Indicators is part of a long standing series. It differs from the recent Compendium of UK Statistics in its focus on English regions in addition to countries. Users who are specifically interested in country level data, however, may find the Compendium of UK Statistics a useful resource.
There are links throughout this article to original data sources and other relevant information.
Gross value added (GVA)1 measures the value of economic output in a particular area. As such, it is one of the most important indicators of regional economic performance.
Between 2011 and 2012, all regions and countries of the UK saw an increase in GVA, apart from the East Midlands which was broadly flat, falling by just £5 million. The South East saw the greatest increase in its total GVA, increasing by 3.3% from £196 billion in 2011 to £203 billion in 2012. This was followed by the North West which saw a 2.2% increase from £128 billion to £131 billion in the same period. It should be noted that these data are nominal GVA2. This means that the data have not been adjusted for inflation (i.e. they are not shown in real terms).
|Yorkshire and The Humber||92.5||93.3||1.0|
Nominal GVA data by region and country are available from 1997 onwards. GVA has grown in almost every year across all regions and countries of the UK during this time, with the only exceptions during the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Figure 1 shows the year on year percentage change in nominal GVA since 2007 for selected regions and countries. The downturn impacted different parts of the UK at slightly different times. GVA started to fall in some regions and countries in 2008, but by 2009 had contracted almost everywhere. In 2008, Northern Ireland saw the biggest contraction in GVA (-1.0%); by contrast in the same year London saw GVA growth of 6.6%. In 2009, the North East saw the biggest contraction (-3.5%).
Most regions and countries returned to nominal GVA growth in 2010 and growth continued in 2011 and 2012. Since the downturn in 2009, growth was strongest in London, rising 11.1% between 2009 and 2012, and the South East, growing 10.5%. Growth was weakest in Northern Ireland and Scotland where it grew by 3.4% and 3.6% respectively.
Looking at the whole period for which data are available, most regions and countries have seen a very slight decline in their share of the UK’s GVA3, but London has seen its share rise. This can be seen in Figure 2. In 1997, London’s share was 19.8%, but by 2012 it had risen to 22.8%. The increase in London’s GVA share corresponds with small declines in almost all regions and countries (rather than a few places taking a disproportionate hit). Other than London, only the South East saw an increase in its share of GVA over the period and this was very small, from 14.8% to 14.9%. The rest of the regions and countries saw a slight decline in their relative share of GVA between 1997 and 2012. The region with the greatest decline was West Midlands, which fell from 8.2% in 1997 to 7.2% in 2012, a difference of 0.9 percentage points.
As GVA shares tend to change very slowly over time, the most recent data showed relatively small changes between 2011 and 2012. The greatest increase was in the South East, which increased by 0.2 percentage points from 14.7% to 14.9%.
The industry which contributes the most to GVA varies by region and country. In London in 2011, the biggest contributor was financial and insurance activities, whilst in the South East it was the wholesale and retail trade. In most of the remaining regions and countries, manufacturing was the biggest contributor to output. Its importance, however, has fallen over time, with the manufacturing sector contributing a falling share of GVA in every region and country between 1997 and 2011.
To give an indication of the different region and country’s industrial structures, table 2 shows, for each sector, the region or country which had the highest and lowest share of its GVA from that sector in 2011. For example the information and communication sector produced 11.6% of London’s output and 2.8% of Wales’ output, with the remaining countries and regions falling somewhere in between. The biggest percentage point difference between the region with the highest share of an industry and the region with the lowest share was in the finance sector. This sector contributed 19.8% to GVA in London and only 3.5% in the East Midlands. This is because the finance sector is concentrated in London. Despite having the second highest percentage of its GVA attributable to finance, Scotland was some way behind London (7.1%). The manufacturing sector contributed between 16.8% (Wales) and 2.7% (London) to output across the regions and countries.
|Agriculture, forestry and fishing||South West (1.4%)||London (0.0%)|
|Mining and quarrying||Scotland (3.6%)||North West (0.1%)|
|Manufacturing||Wales (16.8%)||London (2.7%)|
|Electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply||North East (2.1%)||East (0.7%)|
|Water supply; sewerage and waste management||Wales (2.0%)||London (0.5%)|
|Construction||East (8.5%)||London (4.5%)|
|Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles||Northern Ireland (14.0%)||London (8.3%)|
|Transportation and storage||Yorkshire and the Humber (5.6%)||Northern Ireland (3.8%)|
|Accommodation and food service activities||South West (3.4%)||East Midlands (2.4%)|
|Information and communication||London (11.6%)||Wales (2.8%)|
|Financial and insurance activities||London (19.8%)||East Midlands (3.5%)|
|Real estate activities||South West (12.5%)||Northern Ireland (8.8%)|
|Professional, scientific and technical activities||London (11.7%)||Wales (3.6%)|
|Administrative and support service activities||London (5.4%)||Northern Ireland (3.0%)|
|Public administration and defence; compulsory social security||Northern Ireland (10.6%)||London (3.9%)|
|Education||North East (7.9%)||London (4.7%)|
|Human health and social work activities||Wales (11.2%)||London (5.3%)|
|Arts, entertainment and recreation||Scotland (2.1%)||South West (1.0%)|
|Other service activities||East (1.7%)||Scotland (1.1%)|
|Activities of households||South West (0.9%)||Northern Ireland (0.2%)|
Data are available at regional, country, NUTS 2 and NUTS 3 level in the Regional GVA Statistical Bulletins
Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of production. It is the ratio of output produced to the inputs required in the production process. In the case of labour productivity, it gives a measure of output per labour input, where the labour input can be either filled jobs or hours worked. Productivity growth is crucial to economic growth. It means an economy is producing higher levels of output for the same level of input. There are a number of drivers which lead to productivity growth, such as innovation, skills, competition, investment and enterprise. Regional data on some of these productivity drivers are provided later in this article. This section examines the relative productivity performance of the UK regions and countries.
Figure 3 shows the nominal productivity data for 2012. The index values shown are relative to a value of 100 for the UK as a whole. Whether GVA per hour worked or GVA per filled job is used to measure productivity, the pattern is very similar between the regions and countries. This is because total jobs and total hours worked are highly correlated, only varying with changes in patterns of working hours. London saw the biggest difference between the two measures, where GVA per hour worked was 31.2% above the UK average and GVA per filled job was 40.9% above. This is because Londoners work longer hours on average than the rest of the UK, partly due to more full-time working in London. As it takes into account variations in patterns of working hours, GVA per hour worked is the primary measure for labour productivity.
Figure 3 also shows that, regardless of measure used, that London was the most productive region or country in the UK. The South East was the only other region which was more productive than the UK average (7.7% above using the GVA per hour worked measure). Northern Ireland had the lowest productivity as measured by GVA per hour (17.2% below the UK average).
A large part of the differences in productivity between the regions and countries of the UK are due to different worker characteristics. For example, London has a higher share of graduate workers than other regions or countries and this helps to raise its relative productivity level. Other aspects of a local economy such as the levels of innovation and business start ups can also influence productivity levels. In the case of London, agglomeration economies also help raise productivity. These are the benefits to economic efficiency that arise from working in a dense city environment.
Figure 4 shows GVA per hour worked over a longer time period, 2007 to 2012. The downturn and recovery have had a broadly similar effect on the productivity of all the countries and regions of the UK. That is, there was little change in the performance of each area relative to the UK average. The biggest changes over the period were in Scotland and, Yorkshire and The Humber. From 2007 to 2012, Scotland saw the largest percentage point increase in labour productivity, from 6.6% below the UK average to 2.6% below. Yorkshire and The Humber saw the largest percentage point fall labour productivity, from 7.8% below the UK average in 2007 to 12.2% below in 2012.
The latest data showed a slight narrowing of the gap between the most and least productive countries and regions from 2011 to 2012. London saw its productivity, relative to the rest of the UK, fall by 3.3 percentage points, from 34.5% to 31.2% above the UK average. Northern Ireland saw its relative productivity rise by 1.7 percentage points, from 18.9% to 17.2% below the UK average. Wales also saw a substantial improvement between 2011 and 2012, rising from 17.5% below the UK average to 14.8% below but, despite this, continued to have the second lowest GVA per hour worked.
It should be noted that, as explained in a previous national statistician’s article (Dunnell 2009)1, these productivity indicators are considered more appropriate to assess regional economic performance than GVA per head.
This is because the input measure used in GVA per head (residential population) is not a good measure of the actual labour input involved in the production of a region's output (GVA). There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, by including all the residential population and not just those who are in employment, the denominator includes residents who are not directly contributing to GVA. A second key problem with GVA per head is that it is dividing a workplace-based numerator (workplace based GVA) by a residence-based denominator (residential population). This means it does not account for people commuting in and out of a region. Furthermore, these commuting effects can have a very large impact on GVA per head data in some regions.
For these reasons, GVA per hour worked or GVA per filled job are the most appropriate measures of regional productivity. These measures only count the input of those who are directly employed in the production process (rather than the population as a whole). Additionally they provide a workplace based labour input denominator to match the workplace based GVA numerator, thus fully accounting for the impacts of commuting.
Data are available at regional and country level in the Labour Productivity Statistical Bulletins
The employment rate gives the share of people aged from 16 to 64 in employment. From February to April 2014, the highest employment rate was in the South East (at 76.4%). The lowest employment rate was in Northern Ireland (at 68.1%).
Looking at the period from early 2007 onwards, employment rates have been highest in the south, with the South East, South West and East of England consistently taking the three top spots. London has improved its position over this period, with its employment rate rising from 3.7 percentage points below the UK average in February to April 2007 to just 0.6 percentage points below in February to April 2014. At the other end of the scale, the North East and Northern Ireland have tended to have the lowest employment rates within the UK. Figure 5 shows this pattern from the three months to April 2007 onwards.
As can be seen in Table 3, the latest figures showed that the employment rate increased in every region and country of the UK over the twelve months to February to April 2014. Year on year, most of the changes in the employment rate were not statistically significant1. The statistically significant changes in the employment rate were in the North East, East Midlands, London and South East. Of these, the biggest increase in the employment rate was in the North East (rising 2.9 percentage points to 69.5%). Of the remaining rises which were statistically significant, year on year, the employment rate rose 2.8 percentage points in the East Midlands (to 73.8%), 2.1 percentage points in London (to 72.3%) and 1.6 percentage points in the South East (to 76.4%).
|Feb-Apr 2013||Feb-Apr 2014||Percentage point change|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||70.4||72.0||1.6|
The unemployment rate is calculated in line with the internationally consistent International Labour Organisation definition. It divides the number of unemployed by the number of economically active (those in employment or unemployment) for persons aged 16 and over.
The South West and South East have tended to have the lowest unemployment rates since 2007 (Figure 6). Prior to the downturn, London tended to have the highest unemployment but, during the downturn, unemployment rose more substantially in other areas. The North East saw particularly high unemployment from 2008 onwards, peaking at 12% in the three months to November 2011.
As can be seen in Table 4, year on year, the unemployment rate fell in every country and region of the UK. Of the falls which were statistically significant, the largest fall between February to April 2013 and February to April 2014 was in the West Midlands (falling 1.9 percentage points from 9.4% to 7.5%). The smallest significant fall was in the South West (falling 1.3 percentage points, from 6.2% to 4.9%). The remaining statistically significant falls were in the East Midlands (7.8% to 6.1%), East (6.7% to 5.3%), South East (6.6% to 4.8%) and Wales (8.4% to 6.6%).
|Feb-Apr 2013||Feb-Apr 2014||Percentage point change|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||8.9||8.2||-0.7|
Economic inactivity refers to people who are neither in employment nor unemployed, for example people who are looking after a home or family, or have retired or are long-term sick.
Since 2007, Northern Ireland has consistently had the highest inactivity rate within the UK. This, in part, corresponds to the low employment rate in Northern Ireland, but there has also been a below average unemployment rate in Northern Ireland for most of the period. The inactivity rate for Northern Ireland has fallen in recent years to historically low levels. Despite this, Northern Ireland’s inactivity rate in February to May 2014 (26.7%) was 1.9 percentage points higher than in Wales, which had the second highest rate.
Since 2007, the lowest inactivity rates have tended to be in the South East and East. In the latest quarter (February to April 2014) both regions had an inactivity rate of 19.7%. Employment rates were particularly high in both the South East and East, whilst unemployment rates were below the UK average.
Figure 7 shows inactivity rates since February to April 2007 for selected regions and countries. As can be seen, the inactivity rate did not rise substantially during the downturn. The latest inactivity rates are generally at or below their level at the start of 2007.
As can be seen in Table 5, in the last year, inactivity rates fell in most regions and countries. The North East saw the largest year on year decline (down 3.0 percentage points). This means that the North East fell from having the second highest inactivity rate in the three months to April 2013 to having the fifth highest rate in the same period a year later. In the latest quarter (February to April 2014) the North East’s inactivity rate was at a record low. As shown in table 3, the North East also had a large increase in its employment rate over the same period. The largest year on year rise was in the West Midlands (rising 1.4 percentage points to 24.0%). Table 4 shows that the West Midlands also saw a substantial decrease in its unemployment rate over the same period.
|Feb-Apr 2013||Feb-Apr 2014||Percentage point change|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||22.6||21.5||-1.1|
Figure 8 shows the percentage change in workforce jobs between March 2007 and March 2014. As can be seen, London saw the highest growth in workforce jobs at 15.8% (rising from 4.8m jobs to 5.5m jobs), followed by the South East at 5.8% (rising from 4.4m to 4.7m). The largest decline in workforce jobs was in the North East, a fall of 6.5% (from 1.2m jobs to 1.1m jobs), this was followed by a decline of 1.9% in Scotland (from 2.72m jobs to 2.67m jobs).
As can be seen in Figure 9, in the latest year from March 2013 to March 2014 there were increases in all regions and countries except for the North East, where the number of workforce jobs fell slightly (by 1.1%, 12,000 jobs). The largest percentage increases were in Wales and London, both increasing by 5.5% (that is, 74,000 jobs in Wales and 285,000 jobs in London).
Figure 10 shows data using the official measure of claimant count rate at national/regional level. This is defined using workplace-based rates and expresses the number of claimants as a percentage of workforce jobs plus claimants. Workforce jobs are the sum of employee jobs, self-employment jobs, HM Forces, & government-supported trainees.
There was a marked rise in the claimant count rate in every region and country during the downturn with rates generally peaking around two to four percentage points above pre-downturn levels. However, more recently (particularly since early 2013) the claimant count rate has fallen such that in London the claimant count rate was actually slightly lower in May 2014 than in May 2007. In most of the other regions and countries, the claimant count in May 2014 had not yet fallen to pre-downturn levels but was down to within 1.0 percentage point (of the May 2007 level). The exceptions are the North East, Yorkshire and The Humber and Wales (where the May 2014 rate remained 1.3-1.4 percentage points above the May 2007 level) and Northern Ireland where the rate remained 3.5 percentage points higher.
Labour Market Theme Page
Data are available at various levels including regional, country and local authority level in the Regional Labour Market Statistics Bulletin
More detailed labour market statistics are available via NOMIS
Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head is recommended as a measure of the regional welfare of individuals1. GDHI represents the amount of money available within the household sector for spending or saving after income distribution measures (for example taxes, social contributions and benefits) have taken effect2.
In 2012, London had the highest GDHI per head at £21,446. The lowest GDHI per head was in Northern Ireland (£13,902).
Figure 11 shows the index of GDHI per head between 2002 and 2012 for selected regions and countries, with the UK average equal to 100. The south of England (East, London, South East and South West) has consistently been above the average UK GDHI per head. The remaining regions and countries have been below the national average. Between 2002 and 2012, there were relatively large increases in GDHI per head relative to the UK average in London (rising from 24.5% to 27.7% above the UK average) and Scotland (rising from 6.1% below to 3.1% below the UK average). The largest falls in GDHI per head relative to the UK average were in the East of England (falling from 8.0% above to 5.0% above the UK average), South East (falling from 16.9% above to 13.9% above the UK average) and Yorkshire and The Humber (falling from 11.3% below to 13.2% below the UK average).
From 2011 to 2012, the smallest growth in GDHI per head was in Northern Ireland (2.7%). The highest growth was in the North East (4.0%), followed by Wales (3.8%).
A key aspect of household income is earnings from employment. Analysing earnings data can show how pay differs regionally and by job type and gender. Regional estimates of weekly pay for full-time employees taken from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) are shown in Figure 12. These data are available on a workplace and a residence basis.
In 2013, London had the highest median full-time weekly earnings on both measures at £613 (residence based) and £658 (workplace based). Northern Ireland had the lowest weekly earnings, £463 (residence based) and £460 (workplace based).
Comparing the residence based income with the workplace based income, it is clear to see the effect of commuting in London and its surrounding regions. The median average weekly pay amongst full-time employees working in London was £44 higher per week than the median average amongst residents of London (in full-time employment). Conversely, the residence based measure for the East and South East regions were, respectively, £38 and £23 per week higher than the workplace based measure. This supports the view that some of London’s higher earners live in the surrounding regions and commute into London to work.
Data and further analysis at regional, country, NUTS 2 and NUTS 3 level can be found in the Regional Household Income (GDHI) Statistical Bulletin
Interactive map showing earnings by local authority
Animated chart showing changes in weekly earnings by region over time
ASHE Statistical Bulletin – Regional Results
Patterns of Pay, 1997 to 2013 ASHE Results Release
UK Wages in the Past Four Decades
Regional Family Spending Patterns
This is money left after expenditure associated with income, e.g. taxes and social contributions, property ownership and provision for future pension income. It is calculated gross of any deductions for capital consumption.
Innovation is a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for economic success and is therefore recognised as an important driver of productivity. Innovation comprises, amongst other things, the development of new technologies that increase efficiency and the introduction of new, more valuable goods and services. It also includes intangibles such as new methods of working and improvements to services.
Innovation takes place through a wide variety of business practices and a range of indicators can be used to measure its level within the enterprise or the economy as a whole. These include the levels of effort employed (measured through resources allocated to innovation) and of achievement (the introduction of new or improved products and processes).
The first findings are available for the 2013 UK Innovation Survey. These provide an indication of the share of innovation active businesses in each region or country of the UK. A business is defined as innovation active if it has engaged in any of the following:
Introduction of a new or significantly improved product (good or service) or process;
Engagement in innovation projects not yet complete or abandoned;
New and significantly improved forms of organisation, business structures or practices and marketing concepts or strategies;
In the three year period from 2010 to 2012, the region with the most innovation active businesses was the East Midlands, where almost 50% of firms were innovation active. Northern Ireland had the lowest share, where 40% of firms were innovation active.
More detailed results from the UK Innovation Survey will be available later in the year.
Data are also available on research and development (R&D) expenditure. For the purposes of National Statistics, R&D and related concepts follow internationally agreed standards defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as published in the ‘ Frascati’ Manual. R&D, in the Frascati Manual, is defined as “creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications”. The OECD definition of R&D covers the following:
basic research: experimental and theoretical work to obtain new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view
applied research: work undertaken to acquire new knowledge, which is directed primarily towards a specific practical aim, and
experimental development: systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge, which is directed at producing new materials, products or devices, installing new processes, systems and services, or at improving substantially those already produced or installed
The OECD definition excludes education, training and any other related scientific, technological, industrial, administrative or supporting activities. However, whilst the data presented below focus on R&D, it should be noted that innovation depends on a wider set of inputs than R&D, including skills training, design, software and organisational investment by firms.
The data in Figure 13 relate to business expenditure on R&D. In 2012, business expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GVA was highest in the East of England (3.0%). The figure was the lowest in London, making up just 0.5% of GVA. London’s very low share of expenditure on R&D is due to its high concentration of service industries, which are usually less R&D intensive (within the OECD definition) as they rely heavily on human capital. Since 2007, Northern Ireland has seen substantial growth in R&D expenditure, more than doubling as a percentage of GVA from 0.6% in 2007 to 1.4% in 2012. Despite the East of England’s high share, it has seen the biggest fall in R&D expenditure, falling from 3.7% of GVA in 2007 to 3.0% in 2012. Over the same period, the changes in other regions have ranged from an increase of 0.4 percentage points to a fall of 0.3 percentage points.
The distribution of R&D expenditure between regions and countries will reflect the location choices businesses make regarding their R&D activities. Some firms may spend on assets to improve the efficiency of the firm (software/training) but this is not included in the OECD definition. Also as the benefits of R&D may take years to be realised, a region or country where there are larger, more stable firms might be expected to spend more on R&D.
Enterprise is considered another driver of productivity. It is defined as the seizing of new business opportunities by both start-ups and existing firms. The rationale for its impact on productivity1 is that new enterprises can bring innovative processes and technologies to the market, forcing existing ones to improve their productivity in order to remain competitive.
Figure 14 shows business births as a percentage of active business enterprises for selected regions and countries2. The data include all enterprises registered for VAT or pay-as-you-earn (PAYE). It should be noted that enterprise statistics relate to the place of registration of the enterprise, even though the enterprise may consist of more than one local unit (workplace), possibly in different regions or countries.
In 2012, London had the highest percentage of business births as a share of active business enterprises (14.8%). This was some way ahead of the North East and North West, which had the joint second highest share (11.4%). Northern Ireland had the lowest percentage of business births as a share of active business enterprises (7.0%). The second lowest was Wales (9.4%).
In every region or country except London, the percentage of business births as a share of active business enterprises was lower in 2012 than it was in 2007. Over this period, the biggest percentage point fall in the business birth rate was in Northern Ireland (from 10.3% in 2007 to 7.0% in 2012). In London the rate rose from 14.1% to 14.8%. Business birth rates fell for three consecutive years in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in the English regions in the north and midlands together with the East of England region and Wales. However, this trend reversed in 2011 with year on year rises in birth rates in all regions and countries except Northern Ireland. In 2012, the business birth rate increased from 6.5% to 7.0% in Northern Ireland while in the remaining regions and countries there was very little change in the percentages of business births between 2011 and 2012.
As well as having the highest business birth rate, London also had the highest rate of business deaths in 2012 (11.7%). The gap between London and the North West (the region with the second highest rate of business deaths) was only small, with the North West having a rate of 11.4%. Northern Ireland had both the lowest rate of business births in 2012 and the lowest rate of business deaths (9.4%). This was followed by the South West which had the second lowest percentage of business deaths at 10.0%.
Figure 15 shows business deaths as a percentage of active business enterprises for selected regions and countries. During the downturn, deaths as a percentage of businesses rose everywhere. In 2009, almost every region and country saw the highest business death rate since the data series began in 2004. The exceptions to this were Scotland (which peaked in 2004) and Northern Ireland (which peaked in 2012). Despite falls since 2009, in every region and country business deaths as a percentage of active businesses were higher in 2012 than they were in 2007. The biggest rise was in Northern Ireland (from 6.5% to 9.4%). The smallest rise was in London (from 11.5% to 11.7%).
In the latest year of data, the percentage of business deaths increased in all regions and countries. The greatest increase was in Scotland, from 9.0% in 2011 to 10.6% in 2012. The smallest increase was in the North West, from 10.7% to 11.4%.
Looking at the net effects of the birth and death rates (Figure 16), in 2012 seven regions and countries saw a positive net change, that is, there were more births than deaths. The biggest positive net change as a percentage of active businesses was in London (3.1%). This was followed by a 0.5% positive net change in the South East. The biggest negative net change as a percentage of active enterprises was in Northern Ireland (-2.5%). This was followed by a 0.8% fall in Wales.
Over the longer term, in 2007 and 2008, all regions and countries had more business births than deaths. This reversed in 2009 with all regions and countries seeing more business deaths than births, a trend that continued in most regions and countries in 2010. In Wales and Northern Ireland, business deaths continued to exceed business births in both 2011 and 2012 but in Scotland and most of the English regions the number of business births outstripped the number of business deaths in 2011 and again in 2012.
As well as analysing births and deaths of enterprises, it is useful to look at how long these enterprises survive. Figure 17 shows the percentage of businesses which survived for three years.
Care should be taken in interpreting business survival statistics. At first sight it may be considered that a higher survival rate in area A compared to area B is always a good result for area A. However, this need not always be the case. A relatively high level of business churn can sometimes be seen as desirable, as new firms entering the market bring innovative processes and technologies that drive up productivity and force unproductive enterprises to leave the market. Where this occurs it can lead to an improved productivity performance in the area. The business survival rate data therefore needs to be considered in respect of the wider business conditions and data for each individual region or country, in particular the level of business start ups.
London, for example, tends to have a low business survival rate, but it also has a very high birth rate for new businesses and as seen in Figure 16 the net effect of this has been relatively strong growth in the overall level of business stock in recent years despite its relatively low business survival rate. In areas with lower start ups, competition may be lower and although firms may have a greater chance of survival there may not be such a positive influence on productivity. It should also be noted that low survival rates do not necessarily mean that all the business that closed had failed; some may have been taken over by a larger firm or merged creating a new enterprise.
Figure 17 shows the three year survival rates for businesses born in 2006 and 2009. Of businesses born in 2009, the South West had the highest survival rate, with 63.2% surviving until 2012. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate, only 55.3% survived till 2012. For every region and country, rates were higher for businesses born in 2006 than those born in 2009. This suggests that those businesses started during the downturn struggled during the slow recovery, whereas, businesses formed prior to the downturn were better able to withstand its early effects. Survival rates declined particularly dramatically for Northern Ireland, which went from having the highest three year survival rate for businesses born in 2006 (70.2%) to the lowest in 2009 (55.3%). The smallest decline was in the East of England (falling from 66.5% to 62.2%).
UK firms operate within the context of the global economy. Competition from companies based overseas enhances the productivity of UK firms by creating incentives to innovate and ensuring that resources are allocated to the most efficient firms. Although firms may be competitive without exporting overseas, exports provide an indication of how international regions and countries are in their outlook and their ability to face global competition.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) publishes statistics on regional trade in goods to the EU and non–EU destinations by statistical value1. Trade in goods by definition excludes trade in intangibles and services. The statistical value of export trade is calculated as the value of the goods plus the cost of movement to the country’s border. These data do not include trade between countries or regions within the UK.
Figure 18 shows the value of exports of goods expressed as a percentage of workplace-based regional GVA for selected regions and countries. This measure shows the areas where exported goods are a relatively important aspect of the local economy as it takes into account the differing sizes of each region or country’s economy.
In 2012, exports of goods as a percentage of GVA2 were highest in the North East (30.8%) and lowest in London (11.3%). It is important to remember that this dataset does not include exports from the service sector. The importance of service sector exports varies between regions and countries, but it is particularly dominant in London which partially explains the low share of exported goods from London.
Over the period 2007 to 2012, all regions and countries saw growth in the value of exported goods as a share of regional GVA. Wales saw the largest percentage point increase, from 20.3% to 28.1%. The West Midlands also saw a substantial increase in exported goods as a share of GVA, from 16.5% to 23.2%. The smallest percentage point growth over the period was in Northern Ireland, from 18.4% to 19.1%. The second smallest growth was in the South West, from 11.4% to 12.5%.
Between 2007 and 2008, immediately prior to the downturn, goods export growth outstripped GVA growth, meaning that goods exports as a share of GVA grew in every region and country. As the effects of the downturn were felt, between 2008 and 2009, goods exports as a share of GVA declined in every region and country except Scotland.
Looking at the latest data, between 2011 and 2012 the value of exports as a percentage of GVA in Wales decreased the most amongst the regions and countries, from 31.9% to 28.1%. Despite this fall, in 2012, Wales had the second highest value of exports as a percentage of GVA. The biggest increase was seen in the West Midlands, increasing from 22.0% to 23.2% in the same period.
Throughout the period 2007 to 2013, for most regions and countries, the majority of exported goods were to the European Union (EU). At the start of the period, exports to the EU comprised more than half of exports from every region and country except London and Scotland. In London, exports to the EU comprised 38.1% of the value of total exported goods. The equivalent figure for Scotland was 44.6%. Exports to the EU as a share of total exports were highest in Northern Ireland (61.8%). By 2013, however, most regions and countries had seen a percentage point fall in the share of exports to the EU. The exception to this was London, where there was a three percentage point rise, to 41.1% of exported goods to the EU. The biggest percentage point fall between 2007 and 2013 was in the West Midlands, falling from 57.8% of exports to the EU in 2007 to 41.0% in 2013. The declining share of EU exports was driven by rises in exports to non-EU countries, which exceeded the rises in exports to EU countries. This can be seen in Figure 19. This shows the total change in value of exported goods between 2007 and 2013. In every region and country, the absolute increase in value of goods exported to non-EU countries exceeded the increase to EU countries.
In the latest data, the West Midlands saw the largest decrease in EU exports as a percentage of all exports between 2012 and 2013, from 44.8% to 41.0%. The largest increase was in the South East rising from 48.3% to 51.0% in the same period.
Figure 20 shows the share of exports by destination in 2013. The EU, North America and, Asia and Oceania were the top three export destinations for every region and country apart from Wales. The majority of exports from Wales were to the EU, followed by North America, but 13.3% of Welsh exports in 2013 were to the Middle East and Northern Africa, ahead of Asia and Oceania (11.3%). Wales and, Yorkshire and The Humber had the highest share of exports to North America (24.5% and 23.6% respectively). The West Midlands and East Midlands both had 23.7% of their exports to Asia and Oceania, followed by London at 23.2%.
In all regions and countries except for the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, and London, ‘Machinery and Transport’3 was the largest sector for exported goods in 2013. This was most prominent in the West Midlands where this category made up 71% of all exports. In the North West and, Yorkshire and The Humber, ‘Chemicals’ was the main export (34% and 24% of total exports respectively). In London the main export was ‘Miscellaneous manufactured articles’ (35% of total exports). It is important to remember that this dataset only includes exported goods, so does not include exports from the service sector, which may dominate the exports of some regions and countries, particularly London.
Data are available at regional and country level at HMRC - Regional Trade Statistics
This section considers qualifications as an indicator of skill. By examining the qualifications of the current workforce as well as those of young people, who represent the future capabilities of the labour market, a view of how skills are changing over time and their potential impact on productivity can be analysed.
Figure 21 shows the percentage of people aged 16 to 64 who do not have any qualifications in 2013. Northern Ireland had the highest percentage of 16 to 64 year olds without any qualifications (17.2%). The second highest rate was in the West Midlands (13.6%). The lowest rates were in the South East (6.5%) and the South West (6.6%). The UK average was 9.5%.
Figure 22 shows the percentage of 16-64 year olds who held different levels of NVQ qualifications (or equivalent)1 in 2013. London had the highest share of 16-64 year olds with NVQ level 4 or above (49.1%). In part due to its higher share of people with level 4 and above qualifications, London had a lower than average share of 16-64 year olds with qualifications at NVQ levels 1-3 (33.6% compared to a UK average of 45.6%).
Scotland also had a relatively high share of 16-64 year olds with qualifications at NVQ level 4 or above (39.4%), whilst in Northern Ireland only 28.1% of 16-64 year olds had qualifications at this level. Conversely, the share with qualifications at levels 1-3 in Northern Ireland was higher than in Scotland (44.5% and 39.1% respectively). Northern Ireland also had a higher percentage of this age group with no qualifications or other qualifications.
Across the remaining regions, the mix of NVQ level 1-3 qualifications was broadly similar. For example, the South East had the lowest percentage of 16-64 year olds with only NVQ 1 qualifications at 11.9%, but the English regions with the highest shares (North East, Yorkshire and The Humber, and East Midlands) were only 1.5 percentage points above this at 13.4%. There is more variability in the share of 16-64 year olds who have NVQ level 4 or above qualifications. The South East had the highest share (excluding London and Scotland) at 38.3% and the North East had the lowest at 28.1% (joint with Northern Ireland).
Between 2012 and 2013, the share of the population with qualifications at level 4 or above increased in every region and country except the South West, where there was no change.
It should be noted that characteristics and skill requirements of local economies differ. People with recognised qualifications might migrate into other regions or countries, where demand for their qualifications is high. It is this type of migration that is largely responsible for the relatively high level of residents with level 4 qualifications in London and the South East. Meanwhile, if employers have a strong demand for lower skills and a good supply of appropriate workers, low skill equilibrium can also be created in a region, country or local area.
To assess the future capabilities of the labour force, data on current school performance is shown. Two indicators that have often been used in recent years are the percentage of pupils leaving Key Stage 4 (KS4) achieving five or more grades A* to C at GCSE level or equivalent and the percentage of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs grade A* to C in subjects including English and Mathematics. Figure 23 shows these results for the 2012/13 academic year for the English regions (different educational systems in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland mean it is not possible to provide comparable data across the countries of the UK with this indicator).
The North East had the highest percentage of pupils achieving five A* to C grades in any subject (87.9%). The East of England had the lowest percentage (79.6%). When English and mathematics are included, 65.1% of pupils leaving KS4 in London had five GCSE A* to C grades – the highest percentage of all the English regions. At the other end of the scale, 59.3% of pupils achieved five A* to C grades in the North East and East Midlands.
Between 2011/12 and 2012/13, the share of pupils with five A* to C grades including English and mathematics increased in every region. The share of pupils with five A* to C grades in any subject, however, fell or remained flat in most regions. This is in contrast to previous years, where the share of pupils with five or more A* to C grades increased year on year in every region from 2005/06 (the earliest comparable data available) to 2011/12.
Working age population qualification levels from Annual Population Survey via NOMIS
GCSE and equivalent results in England, 2012 to 2013
Department for Education, Statistical Releases
NVQ Qualification Levels Explained
Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: email@example.com