Edinburgh’s unemployment at lowest for decade as figures show city booming

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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EDINBURGH’S unemployment rate is lower than at any time in the past decade and also the lowest among the UK’s top ten cities.

The 3.6 per cent figure compares with recent highs of 6.9 per cent in 2012 and 2014 and is less than half the 7.8 per cent joblessness rate in Birmingham and well below London’s five per cent.

The city council’s annual Edinburgh by Numbers publication also shows the Capital continues to be the most prosperous city outside London with an average gross disposable household income per resident of £21,800. Bristol is the next nearest on £17,600.

Some 38.6 per cent of Edinburgh’s workforce is in high-skilled occupations – more than other UK cities, including London where the figure is 34.9 per cent.

And the average full-time salary of a person working in Edinburgh is £30,700. Only London has a higher average at £34,750.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “Once again, the findings in this report demonstrate that the Capital is prosperous, growing, successful and competitive in every way against other UK cities.

“These latest figures demonstrate how much scope there is to continue to increase opportunities in the city for everyone. By sharing our success across our communities we can make sure the benefits of economic growth are felt right across Edinburgh.”

The Capital’s population has increased by 12.5 per cent over the past decade to 513,200 – the second fastest growth rate after Manchester on 16 per cent.

But Edinburgh’s population density – 1950 residents per square kilometre – is less than half that of Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

Edinburgh has a higher percentage of the working age population in employment – 75.6 per cent – than most UK cities apart from Bristol and Leeds.

It also has the highest percentage educated to at least degree level – 63 per cent.

And the main reasons in Edinburgh for being economically inactive include being a student – 42 per cent – or being retired – 15.3 per cent. Both reasons are more prominent here than in other major UK cities, including the London region.

Health is the biggest sector for employment, with 50,000 workers, accounting for 15 per cent of all jobs in the Capital.

Finance and insurance is next, with 33,000 employees or 9.9 per cent of the working population – a bigger proportion in this sector than any other UK city, including London.

Finance and insurance also generated £4 billion of added value – one-fifth of the city’s total output.

New businesses started in the Capital have a higher survival rate than most UK cities, with 44.1 per cent still going after five years. Only Leeds was slightly ahead on 44.2 per cent.

The number of small enterprises in Edinburgh – businesses with less than 50 employees – increased by 19.7 per cent from 2012 to 2017.

Altogether, there were a total of 19,705 businesses registered in Edinburgh in 2017 – 1000 of them employing more than 250 people, while over 90 per cent employed fewer than 50 people.

And Edinburgh was second only to Manchester for foreign direct investments with 29 in the year to March.

Depute council leader Cammy Day said: “This publication reminds us of Edinburgh’s importance to the Scottish economy and comes hot on the heels of last week’s publication of the Good Growth for Cities index which showed Edinburgh had outpaced most UK cities in economic success and wellbeing since 2008.

“The city boasts a highly educated population proving that not only do we have the right environment for starting and investing in business, we also have the right workforce to support businesses of the future.

“At the same time, we remain concerned about how we address inequality in this city and ensure that our success is shared with all citizens. Ultimately the strong partnerships between the council, business, universities, third sector and our statutory partners make this possible.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com