Latest regional and country economic indicators show that the economy across the UK has been improving. Nominal output grew in every region and country between 2009 and 2012 (the latest data available) and this led to the level of nominal output in 2012 surpassing the pre-downturn level in all regions and countries except Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, employment rates have been on a rising trend in all regions and countries since early 2012 such that employment rates in Feb–Apr 2014 had returned to similar levels to those in Feb–Apr 2007 across most of the regions/countries of the UK.
In terms of regional or country differences, the data show that London has outperformed the rest of the UK during both the period of the recovery and even more so when considering the period through both the economic downturn and recovery. London’s nominal Gross Value Added (GVA) rose by 15.4% over the period 2007 to 2012 compared with 6.9% for the rest of the UK. Meanwhile, London’s employment rate improved by 3.5 percentage points over the period, from Feb–Apr 2007 to Feb–Apr 2014, in contrast to the rest of the UK, where the employment rate was virtually unchanged (down by 0.1 percentage points).
Figure 1 shows that nominal GVA grew in all regions/countries from 2009 to 2012. London and the South East experienced the largest percentage increases in GVA over this period, followed by the East Midlands and West Midlands. The lowest growth occurred in Northern Ireland. Over the longer 2007 to 2012 period, nominal growth was very similar (in the range of 5.4% to 7.0%) across most of the regions and countries. The exceptions were London and the South East (15.4% and 11.3% growth respectively), and Yorkshire and The Humber (2.6% growth) and Northern Ireland (1.0% contraction). It should be noted that these data are in nominal terms so have not been adjusted for inflation.
Figure 1 Percentage change in nominal GVA by region and country 2007 to 2012
There was a declining trend in employment rates across almost all regions and countries of the UK between Feb–Apr 2007 and Feb–Apr 2009. Furthermore, with the exception of Northern Ireland, there was no immediate recovery in employment rates through the next three years to Feb–Apr 2012. However, over the most recent two years (Feb–Apr 2012 to Feb–Apr 2014) employment rates have been on an upward trend in all regions and countries of the UK, with a particularly large improvement in the employment rate in London.
The net effect is that employment rates in Feb–Apr 2014 had returned to similar levels to those in Feb–Apr 2007 across most of the regions/countries of the UK. The biggest improvement was in London where the employment rate increased by 3.5 percentage points over this period.
Figure 2 Percentage point change in employment rates by region and country, 2007 to 2014 (February to April for each year)
Data on the number of workforce jobs show that the largest percentage increases over the past year (March 2013 to March 2014) were in Wales and London, both increasing by 5.5%. Over the longer 2007 to 2014 period, 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 latest data on business births and deaths are for 2012. In that year, the difference between the level of business births and business deaths (as a percentage of active businesses) was highest in London (net increase of 3.1%). The South East region had the next largest net increase (0.5%). The biggest net decrease was in Northern Ireland (2.5%), where business deaths exceeded business births for the fourth consecutive year.
In 2012 the highest growth in Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head was in the North East at 4.0%, followed by Wales at 3.8%. The lowest growth was in Northern Ireland at 2.7%. Compared with 2007, the data for 2012 showed the largest percentage point increases in GDHI in the North East, Wales and Scotland, with the lowest increase in Northern Ireland.
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 in labour productivity, from 7.8% below the UK average in 2007 to 12.2% below in 2012. Over the year to 2012, London saw its productivity, relative to the rest of the UK, fall by 3.3 percentage points, although it remained 31.2% above the UK average.
For more information see the full Regional Economic Indicators, July 2014 article