NW leads the way in manufacturing says ONS

THE North West is the number one region in the UK for manufacturing, is a leader in renewable energy and businesses based here are among the highest spenders on research and development in the country.

This is according to the Portrait of the North West report from the Office for National Statistics.

Gathering data from the last three years, the study gives a fascinating insight into the economic and social state of the region.

While there are undoubted positives – such as the £63.3bn in revenues generated by North West manufacturers, there are major challenges, with the region still blighted by high unemployment and home to some of the poorest areas in the country.

With a population of around 6.9 million in 2009, the North West is the third-largest  region in the UK, behind only London and the South East. It has though some of the lowest rates of employment in the UK.

In the third quarter of 2010, the employment rate for residents of working-age was 69.4% compared with 70.8% for the UK average.

Key findings include:

  •  Over 87 per cent of the population live in urban areas, contributing to the highest regional population density in the UK outside London
  • The North West makes a larger contribution to the UK’s manufacturing industry than any other region (13% of manufacturing gross value added in 2008)
  • The region has the third largest expenditure on research and development by businesses in the UK. Almost 78% of the region’s total research and development expenditure was in businesses, the second highest proportion of any region in the UK
  • Of the 939 sites in England generating electricity from renewable sources in 2009, 150 were in the North West (16%) – more than any other English region 

The study says that three industry groups were responsible for over half of the region’s Gross Value Added: real estate, renting and business activities (22% of North West GVA, 24% of the UK’s), manufacturing (16% of North West GVA, 12% of the UK’s) and the wholesale and retail trade (12% in both cases).
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In terms of employment, service industries provide the majority of jobs in the North West. Data from last year shows that in June 2010, 82% of employee jobs were in service industries while just over 10% were in manufacturing.

Despite the strength of the professional business communities in the Liverpool and Manchester the region has a below average percentage of employee jobs in professional, scientific and technical activities; financial and insurance activities;
and information and communication.

The report reveals that In the second quarter of 2010 there were 483,000 working-age households in the North West where no adult worked.  About 17% of children in the region lived in a workless household.

There was considerable variation within the region though – the proportion of workless households ranges from 32%  in Liverpool – the highest in the UK – to around 11% in Macclesfield, South Lakeland and the Ribble Valley.

The value of tourism to the region is highlighted too. In 2008 UK residents visiting the North West spent 37 million nights and £2.3bn in the region. Overseas visitors spent 17 million nights and £850m, the fourth highest among UK countries and regions. 

A full version of the 30-page Portrait of the North West is available here.