Contributing just under 7% of Britain’s total output in 2014, Yorkshire contains some of the biggest economies in the UK, with Leeds being ranked as the 4th largest UK economy overall. Yorkshire also boasts a large workforce with its total population of over 5.3 million people, meaning more people live in our county than the entirety of some countries, such as Scotland, Norway, New Zealand, Uruguay and the Republic of Ireland.
While Yorkshire’s roots are in the steadily declining sector of manufacturing, 15.3% of the UK’s output still came from Yorkshire in 2010, compared with the national average of 10.8%. Nowadays, business has generally shifted towards retail, services and tourism, with many of the largest employers in the region being councils and universities. Many national businesses have also been founded in Yorkshire, such as Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, McCains, Jet2, Birds Eye and Thorntons Chocolate.
In total, Yorkshire’s economic output was £106.47 Billion in 2014, a 3.3% rise on the previous year. This makes the region’s economy nearly double the size Wales’ (at £54.3 Billion).
Total GVA per sub-region in Yorkshire and The Humber (2014)
|North Yorkshire||£22.35 Billion|
|West Yorkshire||£20.81 Billion|
|East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire||£18.92 Billion|
|South Yorkshire||£17.46 Billion|
#10 – Halifax
Halifax was a busy industrial town, dealing in and producing wool, carpets, machine tools and beer. However, retail has now become the main source of income within the city, with many big name retail shops in the town centre. Halifax also hosts regular markets where local producers sell their products to the general public.
Halifax has been the birthplace to some large, national companies such as Halifax PLC, which is a large banking company which is named after the town it was founded in. Nowadays, the bank is a part of the Lloyd’s banking group. The town has strong associations with confectionery, as famous brands Rolo, Toffee Crisp and Quality Street can all trace their origins back to John Mackintosh and his wife opening a toffee shop in Halifax.
#9 – Doncaster
Doncaster emerged as an industrial centre between the late 18th century and the 20th century. Its communication links that meant that the city became a bustling hub for business. Underneath Doncaster lies a huge natural resource by the way of deep seam coal. More recently there has been an expansion in commercial and residential developments, along with good transportation links with the rest of the UK to expand the city’s economy.
Due to its proximity to major urban centres and motorways/rail infrastructures, Doncaster holds a number of major distribution centres, including the Doncaster International Railport, which dispatches goods to Europe by rail. Large warehousing and logistics centres for retailers such as NEXT, Tesco, Ikea and Amazon are also located here. On 5th March 2004, Doncaster was granted fairtrade town status and in the years following this, the centre of Doncaster went under redevelopment.
#8 – Huddersfield
Huddersfield is historically a manufacturing town, despite the University being the largest employer in the city. The town has historically produced textiles, however, the number of people working in the textiles industry has declined. There still exists some surviving companies that produce a large quantity of woollen products, despite having such a small work force. Other companies that still manufacture their products in Huddersfield include Cummins Turbo Technologies, Taylor & Lodge Textiles and Syngenta AG (Chemicals). THere’s also Mamas and Papas, the manufacture and retailer of prams, pushchairs and other related baby items.
Huddersfield has a large and diverse retail shopping area compared to other towns of similar size, with three shopping centres total; The Kingsgate, The Packhorse and The Piazza Centre. The town centre is also home to several national high-street retail chains, such as Clinton Cards, GAME, House of Fraser, JD and many more.
#7 – Barnsley
The town is known for it’s coal mining, even though all the mines were located in the villages surrounding Barnsley. Despite mining once contributing largely Barnsley’s economy, the final mine, Goldthorpe, was closed in 1994. Wire, linen and glass making were also major industries in the past, but only glass making still survives with one company operating in the town. Nowadays, Barnsley is growing towards the service industry, with a below average unemployment rate of 2.8%, compared to the national average of 3.1%.
In 2002, Barnsley Council launched a consultation group called “Rethinking Barnsley” with it’s partners. The plan was to regenerate the town centre by redeveloping the transport interchange and opening new offices and apartment complexes. At the same time, new housing areas were developed, and even a business centre was opened. This was one of the key factors behind Barnsley falling unemployment figures.
#6 – York
2013 GVA – £4.29 Billion
York’s economy is based on the service industry, which in 2000 was responsible for 88.7% of employment in the city, this includes health, education, finance, information and technology. Tourism has also become an important element of York’s economy, with the city offering a wealth of historic attractions such as York Minster. In 2009, York Minster was 7th most visited attraction by UK residents and 13th most visited by oversea tourists.
The unemployment rate in York was low at 4.2% in 2008 compared to the UK national average of 5.3%. The biggest employer in York is the York council with 7,500 employees, other major employers in York include Aviva, Northern Rail, The University of York and the York Hospitals NHS Trust.
#5 – Hull
2013 GVA – £4.65 Billion
The economy of Hull was built on trading, seafaring, whaling and oilseed crushing. Although the fishing industry declined in the 1970s, the city still has an active and busy port, handling over 13 million tonnes of cargo every year. The port employ 5,000 people, but a further 18,000 are employed as a direct result of port activities. The port area of city has diversified to compensate for the decline of fishing by introducing the Roll-on/roll-off ferry. A service for the rest of Europe where ferries handle over a million passengers each year.
Other large industries in the city including the chemical and healthcare sectors. Several well known British companies, including BP, Smith & Nephew, Seven Seas and Reckitt Benckiser all have facilitates in Hull. As the biggest settlement in the East Riding of Yorkshire and the local transport.hub, Hull is a natural focus for retail shoppers, the now-defunct national chain ‘Comet’ was even started in Hull.
#4 – Wakefield
2013 GVA – £5.82 Billion
The economy of Wakefield declined in the last quarter of the 20th century as coal mines and traditional manufacturing industries continued to shrink and closed, this led to high rates of unemployment in the town. However, between 1998 and 2003, the economy grew by 12%, this has been supported by inward investment from the European and United Kingdom government, which has impacted on the regeneration of the area. Even though traditional manufacturing is on the decline, it still remains an important employment sector, whilst distribution and the service industries are now among the main employers.
33,521 people are employed in Wakefield and 20.74% work in the wholesale and retail trade, including repair of motor vehicles; 14.42% work within manufacturing industry; 11% in the health and social work sector and 6.49% are employed in the transport, storage and communication.
#3 – Bradford
2013 GVA – £8.19 Billion
When the textile industry went on a decline, Bradford suffered from deindustrialization, causing some areas of Bradford to reach the worst levels of social deprivation in the UK. However, the sheer size and population of the city means that Bradford’s economy is still a major powerhouse in the region, contributing 8.4% of the total output in Yorkshire and The Humber. The city is the home of several major companies such as Yorkshire Building Society, Santander UK, BASF, Hallmark Cards, Provident and Morrisons. The city’s biggest employers is the Provident Financial PLC, a financial services group that specialises in home collected credit and owns the Vanquis Bank, which offers various credit cards.
The city has also celebrated the opening of the long awaited Broadway Shopping Centre. Initially put on-hold die to funding difficulties, Bradford Council secured £17.6 Million of regional growth funding from the government in 2011. Also in 2013, retail giant Freeman Grattan Holdings secured a deal to open a new head office in the centre to house 300 new jobs.
#2 – Sheffield
2013 GVA – £10.53 Billion
After a bad patch of decline during the fall of the steel and coal mining industries, Sheffield’s economy went on a strong revival. The 2004 Barclays Bank Financial Planning Study revealed that in 2003, the district of Hallam was the highest ranking area outside London for overall wealth. This can be seen by the current surge of redevelopments in the city, including the City Lofts Tower, Velocity Living and the Moor redevelopment. In the ‘UK Cities Monitor 2008’, Sheffield was ranked among the top ten “best cities to locate a business today”.
Sheffield is a major UK retail centre and is home to many high street and department stores, the main shopping centres being the Moor Precinct, Fargate and Devonshire Quarter. However, most retail traffic can be found in the outskirts, heading towards the iconic Meadowhall Shopping Centre. Meadowhall was once the biggest shopping centre in UK, and is still among the biggest today.
#1 – Leeds
2013 GVA – £18.94 Billion
Leeds has a diverse economy with a large number of people employed in the service sector, a sector that has been growing for decades and has far exceeding the traditional manufacturing industries. Over 400,000 workers are registered in the Leeds district, of these 24.7% were in public administration, education and health, 23.9% were in banking, finance and insurance, and 21.4% were in distribution, hotels and restaurants. The financial and services industry in Leeds is the 5th biggest in the UK with 30 UK and international banks in the city. Leeds is also where the headquarters for First Direct is located, and is the home of Yorkshire Bank.
The city is also an important centre for equity, venture and risk finance. Founded in Leeds is the venture capital provider YFM Equity partners, this is now the UK’s largest provider of risk capital to small and medium sized enterprises. Leeds also has other major companies based in the city such as ASDA, William Hill, Aviva and Telefonica Europe (better known as O2). Leeds is the UK’s third largest manufacturing centre with 50% of the UK’s manufacturing based within a two hour drive from the centre of Leeds with about 1,880 firms and about 39,000 employees in total. Leeds is also one of the largest gaming sector in the UK, with Rockstar Leeds (Grand Theft Auto) having a division in the city centre.
All figures sourced from the Office for National Statistics