Swindon’s population growth outweighs job creation, suggests new report
Swindon’s population is growing far more quickly than the number of jobs the economy is creating, according to a major new report.
The annual Cities Outlook report from economic think tank the Centre for Cities ranked Swindon third in the UK for population growth between 2004 and 2013, expanding by 14.8 percent, or 12,030 homes – more than double the national average.
But over the same period, it ranked in the bottom ten for jobs growth – down 6.5 percent against a national trend of five percent growth. That amounts to a loss of around 7,100 jobs over the period. Gloucester was the worst performing city in the UK, with a deficit of 8,100 jobs – 12.6 percent over the period.
Swindon also ranks among the lowest for private sector jobs growth – down 9.8 percent against a national increase of four percent. Swindon has a relatively small public sector, and the economy relies on jobs created in the private sector.
However, the town ranks fourth in the UK for the number of companies registered – 29 percent over the period – putting it just behind Aberdeen, London and Warrington for business growth. This suggests the loss of larger firms employing hundreds of people – like Honda, which shed 1,300 jobs two years ago – is being replaced by SMEs and sole traders going it alone.
The challenge for those in charge of driving economic development will be to encourage those new business to take on employees.
Of course, the report – which looks at trends in the 64 largest cities in the UK – does not account for people moving to Swindon to benefit from readily available, affordable housing, but taking advantage of good road and rail links and travelling elsewhere in Wiltshire or beyond to work.
This seems to be borne out by the finding that 78 percent of residents are employed, while just 1.33 percent of the population are on Job Seekers Allowance, and around a quarter of one percent of the working age population (0.27 percent) are listed as long term unemployed.
And there’s some good news on the pay packet front – average wages have increased year-on-year from £465.60 a week to £505.40.
All the statistics are available at www.centreforcities.org/city/swindon/