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York’s Economy   Download this section

By the end of this financial year, City of York Council will have had to save £40.6 million since 2011/2012, and up to £11 million more will need to be saved in 2014/15. In the past three years its Government grant has been reduced by £18 million and 2014/2015 could see a further £5 million drop. 

The Chief Executive has said that “All councils are having to consider finding radically different ways to deliver services at lower costs or they will be making significant cuts to services in the next two financial years” (York Press, December 2013).

York is a distinctive city and attracts around 7 million visitors each year. The city has a strongly performing economy and continues to attract investment. The City has successfully adapted from being a railway and confectionery-manufacturing city into an international destination and hub for science and technology and a national centre for financial and business services. The City is home to internationally competitive industry; research expertise in the biosciences; the environment; and digital and creative technologies.

The City currently supports more than 117,000 jobs and contributes £4.1bn of value to the national economy. The economy supports 8135 business units.

In 2013 York was ranked highly in several independent economic assessments;

Centre for Cities, Cities Outlook 2013

  • One of the most buoyant economies in the north
  • Top ten of UK cities with percentage of its workforce with high skills
  • Top ten lowest Claimant Count Change
  • Top Ten cities with lowest proportion of the population with no qualifications
  • Top ten of UK cities with highest employment rate
  • Top ten cities for positive change in real wages
  • Top ten of UK cities for Youth Unemployment Rate.
  • Top ten city for Long-term claimant count rate
  • One of the higher performing cities for the number of working age population holding a university qualification (40.8% of York’s working age population holding a university level qualification in 2011)
  • An improving private sector/public sector jobs ratio
  • Improving proportion of Knowledge Intensive Service jobs
  • Improving Business Stock Levels

The Santander Town and Cities Index 2013

  • York ranks very highly in the Santander Business rankings, at 13th overall
  • York has a higher than average proportion of residents who are educated to NVQ4 level (degree level). This is helpful for promoting favourable business conditions because towns and cities rely on their residents: ‘smart’ towns need ‘smart’ people.
  • York ranks 2nd of 74 UK cities for Talent
  • York has relatively low levels of its population with no qualifications
  • 16th of 74 for Enterprise
  • 13th for Well-being
  • Nearly a third of recruitment activity (29%) took place within the financial and professional sector, just under a quarter (23%) in other services – largely IT and digital – and 14% from the manufacturing sector.
  • Tourism plays a significant part in the York economy, with thousands of people drawn to the city from both the UK and overseas.
  • York is rich in history, architecture and culture, all of which can have a very positive impact. In May 2011, York was voted ‘Britain’s Favourite Small City’ in an independent poll commissioned by Rough Guides (and conducted by YouGov) and such a profile can make a city a popular choice as a place for people to live and work.

The MJ & Local Futures –An Investment guide to England, 2013

  • York is in the top ten local authority areas outside London to locate a Business (Ranked 5th)
  • “York is the highest performing city in England in the human resources category of the Local Futures research.”
  • York is in the top ten cities for growth in business stock (ranked 5th in the country)
  • A top ten city for business and enterprise (ranked 5th in the country)
  • York number 1 for Human resources,
  • Top city for labour market
  • Ranked 3rd for Skills and qualifications
  • Ranked number 1 for Quality of Life
  • 9th for Environment and Infrastructure

Although York’s continued economic success and resilience through the economic downturn is apparent, complacency is not an issue and certain areas of improvement remain.

Centre for Cities Outlook 2013: York City Comparator

York was successful in the latter part of 2012 of being granted Super Connected Cities status to help develop its digital connectivity.

York's economic development has been recognised and the city has been ranked amongst the best small cities in the continent.

The city picked up an award from the Financial Times, recognising York’s position in the top ten in Europe under two categories; the city ranked ninth in the small European cities overall category and eighth in the small European cities FDI strategy category.

The report, published in the Financial Times’ FDI magazine seeks to recognise cities across the continent for their economic infrastructure and strategies. York was praised for its economic investment and clear strategy for attracting foreign direct investment.

The report also acknowledged York’s economic infrastructure, business friendliness and economic potential.

Business Start ups have slowed slightly during 2013. As the employment picture has improved this has had an effect on the overall performance; however York’s business start-up rate is higher than that of Leeds.

Housing stock and Housing affordability have become an issue in York. The Local Plan is aiming to improve the position York faces at the current time, and York has the least affordable housing of any city in the region.

Gross value added (GVA) is a measure in economics of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy. The figure below shows the GVA for York in comparison to other UK cities. York has been deviating away form the national picture and similar economies for a longer time than the recent economic downturn. Since 1997, York’s GVA has been in decline.

Gross Value Added (GVA) per Head Indices: York vs other UK cities

York's Economic Strategy is addressing the above issues and more, to make York as internationally and nationally as successful as possible.

The Cities Outlook 2011 report ranked York in the top 10 cities with the lowest level of inequality between residents. There are many examples of local communities working together and the city has a large number of cultural events run and local projects delivered in partnership.


This page was last updated on 20 April 2015
This page will be reviewed by 20 April 2016