Press releases

North West employment at its highest as region Powers Up

28 November 2018

Employment rate in the North West is at its highest since records began, according to Deloitte’s latest Power Up report, however the region must invest in key growth drivers to increase slowed productivity.

Deloitte’s Power Up report offers a review of productivity across UK regions and nations, examining the challenges and opportunities facing these locations. The firm consulted more than 50 business leaders, educators, local government officials and other influential figures to offer insight to how the North West could unlock its potential.

The report found that the employment rate among 16 to 64 year-olds between July and September 2018 was 75%, representing the highest figure since records began in 1992. Unemployment was 4%, close to a record low, and down from 9.5% in 2012.

Sean Beech, Head of Clients & Industries in the North West at Deloitte, said: “Over the past two decades, North West cities have become a model for reviving an urban economy, which has translated to increases in job creation and prosperity. This is in part due to the emergence of key sectors such as information and communications, which have demonstrated that it is possible to increase productivity and employment in tandem.”

However, the report also highlights that, as elsewhere in the UK, the North West has seen slower productivity growth since the financial crisis.

“If productivity growth had continued at the pre‐crisis rate, the average worker could have been working eight and a half hours less per week to produce the same amount”, added Beech. “However, for nine of 13 sectors analysed in the Deloitte report, productivity growth has outperformed national averages since 1997 – giving us hope that the challenge can be addressed.”

Skills and infrastructure
Deloitte’s report cites key growth drivers as having the potential to unlock productivity in the North West. This includes strengthening transport systems and investment in skills. Beech explained: “Investment in infrastructure is happening, such as the £1bn expansion of Manchester Airport, however it remains a concern as to whether promises to build Northern Powerhouse Rail and a new route linking northern cities will materialise.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice‐Chancellor of the University of Manchester, said: “We need to do better at automation and much better on skills – particularly at lower levels – and skills in digital/numeracy,” while Chris Oglesby, Chief Executive of Bruntwood, agreed that: “We need to upskill people for the high skilled jobs that we are creating and to better link people to the high skilled jobs being created in the economic engines of the North.”

Collaboration and devolution
Partnerships between neighbouring local authorities and the private sector are also cited by Deloitte as central to the region’s economic prosperity. This is notably in Greater Manchester, where joint working has yielded benefits such as the expanding Metrolink tram system, and in Liverpool with Liverpool One and Liverpool Two.

The introduction of new mayors of Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester also represent a factor in the region’s long-term growth. Beech added: “New powers over transport, housing, strategic planning and adult skills will be key to delivering our cities’ ambitions.

“North West leaders must continue to make common cause with their counterparts across the North to maintain pressure for more investment. If efforts to improve business growth, jobs, skills, transport and digital connections can be aligned, there is no reason why the North West cannot prosper as part of a healthy and more balanced UK economy.”


Note to editors

About the Power Up report
The report consulted and interviewed more than 50 business leaders, educators, local government officials and other influential figures in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the eight English regions outside London. The report describes each UK region and nation’s economic performance. It investigates strengths and weaknesses and outlines a series of proposed actions, deriving from discussions with senior business leaders that can help to raise the contribution of many regions to a new level.

The regions and nations are:

  • East of England;
  • East Midlands;
  • North East;
  • North West;
  • Northern Ireland;
  • Scotland;
  • South East;
  • South West;
  • West Midlands;
  • Yorkshire and Humber; and
  • Wales.

About the Power Up data
The 15 sectors analysed:

  • Agriculture, mining, and utilities;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Construction;
  • Wholesale and retail trade;
  • Transport and storage;
  • Accommodation and food service;
  • Information and communication;
  • Financial and insurance activities;
  • Professional, scientific and technical activities;
  • Administrative and support services;
  • Public administration;
  • Education;
  • Human health and social work; 
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation; and 
  • Other service activities.

All data is sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), some publicly available, others under license agreement.

The employment numbers are from 1982 to 2017. The productivity (as measured by gross value added per hour worked) numbers are from 1997 to 2015 across 15 industries and all regions. The change in productivity is analysed across three different time frames – pre-crisis (1997-2007), post-crisis (2007-2015) and overall (1997-2015).

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

For more information, please visit

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

Did you find this useful?