Centre for Cities update annual index of UK cities

Cover of Cities Outlook 2011 by Centre for Cities

The Centre for Cities have published Cities Outlook 2011 (pdf, 2.4mb), identifying the UK cities best placed for a private sector-led recovery.

According to the report, five cities to watch are Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol. These cities have high potential to create private sector jobs and are less vulnerable to public sector job losses and spending cuts.

The report identifies five vulnerable cities that may not gain the benefits of national economic recovery for some time: Sunderland, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Swansea and Newport.

Performance of large cities, including Birmingham, will remain crucial in providing private sector jobs.

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State of the West Midlands 2010 report published

State of the West Midlands 2010

The State of the West Midlands 2010 report is now available, accessible through this interactive website or as a pdf download (1.74 Mb).

The report sets out the evidence about some of the key challenges facing the West Midlands and its localities. Since the general election earlier in the year, much has changed in the way that the West Midlands is governed, but the big issues that it faces remain. Issues such as the growing economic output gap, high levels of worklessness, skills levels, the ageing population, the consequences of climate change and the poor image of the West Midlands.

This year, for the first time, we have published the report in an interactive web version (as well as a pdf -1.74Mb). This will allow you to provide comments on the report, as well as providing easy access to the issues that are of most interest to you.

Recovery from the recession remains fragile in the West Midlands

According to recent research by the Observatory, recovery from the recession has been fragile. After rising in the second half of 2009, recruitment activity faltered in the early months of 2010.

Geographically, the areas expected to experience the most fragile economic recovery in terms of growth in GVA and jobs are traditional industrial areas, such as the Black Country and Stoke-on-Trent. These areas have historically been dependent on industries such as engineering, manufacturing and construction.

Recovery is expected to be strongest in areas clustered in the south and east of the West Midlands, in Solihull and Warwickshire. These areas benefit from a strong presence of high value added knowledge-based industries,  good communication links and environmental quality.

The pace of economic growth in the West Midlands over the next five years (2010–2015) is forecast to be modest. GVA is forecast to grow by 11% (£9 billion) over the period. This compares with growth of 15% (£11 billion) between 2000–2007.

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Skills needed to kick start the West Midlands economic recovery

While there are tentative signs of an upturn in the labour market, with more firms looking to recruit new staff and invest in training, the economic recovery is expected to be weak and protracted.

Headline regional GVA is not expected to begin to rise until 2010 and an upturn in employment is not expected until 2012:

Chart showing annual percentage change in employment and GVA forecast for the West Midlands 2007-2016

Chart: Base forecast: West Midlands trends in employment and value added. Source: Observatory Integrated Policy Model. View full size chart (png, 18kb).

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Debate on the future of the region is picking up pace

Fit for the Future? Green InfrastructureThe West Midlands: Fit for the Future? debate is picking up pace, with the Observatory today publishing an eleventh chapter to add to the original book of ten chapters (pdf, 5.7mb).

The Forestry Commission’s Bill Heslegrave felt so strongly about the inclusion of green infrastructure in a debate on the economic recovery of the West Midlands, that he submitted a chapter of his own (pdf, 928kb).

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