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State of the City investigated...

Simon Binns picks apart Manchester’s State of the City 2009/10 report – are we back in business or heading for the metaphorical dole queue?

Written by . Published on August 2nd 2010.


State of the City investigated...

The recent State of the City report 2009-2010 (click here) gives some interesting indicators as to how Manchester is performing, socially and economically.

Manchester’s biggest recent problem has always been two-fold. Persistent worklessness and a lack of skills and qualifications among a significant proportion of its residents. The report claims that progress has been made in lowering the amount of people claiming out-of-work benefits, however.

We’ll be taking a look at a different element every day this week to try and give you a flavour, without having to pour over 114 pages. Unless you absolutely want to, of course.

Let’s start with the business end. More than 307,000 people were employed in Manchester in 2008, an increase of 14.5 per cent since 1998. The city had 17,800 companies based within it – up by 1,400 in ten years.

Between 1998 and 2008 there was an increase of 39,000 workers in the city. The most prominent areas of employment are the city centre, Manchester Airport and the Oxford Road Corridor.

The sector responsible for the largest share of Manchester’s employment growth over that ten year period was ‘real estate and business activities’. This includes computer-related activities, legal and accounting services, advertising, technical and management consultancies, and all other business activities.

The number of jobs in this sector grew by more than half during those 10 years, translating into 24,000 more jobs.

That sector took a kicking during the recession, however, so it will be interesting to see how the job numbers were affected from 2008 until the current day.

Ditto the construction industry (20 per cent growth between 1998 and 2008), transport, storage and communication (20 per cent) and financial intermediation (15 per cent).

The report was fairly optimistic, however, saying that “looking forward, Manchester’s strength in this area suggests that it is well placed to benefit from an upturn in the economy, as (real estate and business) is expected to be one of the key drivers of the recovery.”

More worrying was the huge drop in manufacturing jobs during those ten years – a fall of 42 per cent – alongside a 16 per cent drop in the number of sales jobs. The number of manufacturing businesses based in the city fell by 32 per cent too.

As the report points out, “Manchester’s economic base is changing and high-skilled jobs are being created in high growth, knowledge-based industries (KBIs), such as life sciences, creative, cultural and media, specialist manufacturing, communication and aviation.”

The knock on effect there, is the need to align education and training for the jobs that are being created, without compromising standards of literacy, numeracy and a basic grasp your more ‘traditional’ GCSE-type subjects.

These new sectors are “crucial to future growth and economic development” says the report, with jobs in KBI growing by 16 per cent between 2003 and 2008 – higher than the national average of 12 per cent.

But Manchester’s biggest recent problem has always been two-fold. Persistent worklessness and a lack of skills and qualifications among a significant proportion of its residents.

The report claims that progress has been made in lowering the amount of people claiming out-of-work benefits, however.

In May 2007 there were 57,530 residents of Manchester claiming out-of-work benefit. That figure has been falling steadily over recent years to a low of 55,700 in May 2008, before rising sharply, as a result of the recent recession and the rise in Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants.

In the past five years to August 2009, there has been a reduction of 4,780 (9.7 per cent) residents claiming workless benefits.

In August 2009, there were 17,350 people in Manchester claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). While in recent years the number of claimants has been reducing, during late 2008 the number of claimants began to increase and the number rose sharply during 2009.

Between May 2009 and August 2009, there were 930 new JSA claimants, which was lower than the increase of 1,230 claimants between May 2008 and August 2008, but still much higher than the same period two years ago, when JSA only increased by 50 claimants.

So, some work to do in terms of supporting the growth sectors. The most interesting figures will be those charting the last two years, of course. Tune in tomorrow for the next instalment.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ConmanAugust 2nd 2010.

Interesting stuff. Although it does sit rather incongruously amongst the Confidential Fisher-Price colour scheme.

AnonymousAugust 3rd 2010.

Mmm. A sort of vaguely interesting article but I can't help but feel its somewhat flawed, although this may be just that report that this is taken from is flawed? A real estate recovery? I somehow doubt it (in Manchester or anywhere else for that matter). The city is full of empty residential and commercial properties, developers are not building and the key to all of this is finance. Until the banks start lending again we're all doomed. The new economy in Manchester is a digital online economy. Make no mistake. Get into this and you're sorted. But word of caution - all bubbles burst eventaully and recessions can be long drawn out affairs .......

And what is worklessness? What a horrible over politically correct word. I think unemployed is the correct term.

AnonymousAugust 3rd 2010.

I thought worklessness meant 'won't work' rather than unemployed per se.

AnonymousAugust 3rd 2010.

Anon, I think the idea of the word is intended to convey all those out of work, including the unemployed, those who are too bone idle to work and those who can't through disability... It sounds politically correct, but actually isn't. It is, however, an ugly and unnecessary word.

James11364August 5th 2010.

Those who want actually to read the report should start here

http://www.manchesterpartnership.org.uk/

and use the link to 'performance management' on the left of the page.

It is in my view not a very useful report and I suspect that MCC Planning data base which is not public is a better source.

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