Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Regional Job Growth in the United Kingdom

Which Regions Are Growing as Employment Hubs?

Published today, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment in connection with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have compiled a report into job growth in the UK, examining which areas grew in total employment over 2018.

The report builds on data from the recently published Workforce Jobs Survey by the ONS, utilising over 83,000 data inputs and the largest of its kind. 

Regional Job Growth - December 2018 vs 2017


Dec-17 Jobs

Dec-18 Jobs

Absolute Job Growth

% Growth in Jobs

Yorkshire & The Humber





North West





South West





South East





East of England





West Midlands










Northern Ireland





North East















East Midlands





Yorkshire & The Humber and the North West clearly led regional job growth in 2018, with a 3.5% increase in the amount of jobs year-on-year. In contrast, the East Midlands saw a significant decrease in employment of 2.2% over 2018, by far the biggest decrease in the UK.

Location Breakdowns & Performance Factors

North West - leader of regional job growth in 2018. +3.5%

Our data suggests that over 130,000 jobs were created in the North West in 2018, by far the leader of absolute job growth in the UK.

Deloitte point to a ‘Manchester media boom’ as a key factor in growth, with regeneration of the Manchester Docks seeing considerable investment with the creation of an employment hub in MediaCityUK. 

Yorkshire & the Humberjoint leader of proportional job growth in 2018. +3.5%

With growth of nearly 100,000 jobs year-on-year, 2018 was a very successful year economically for Yorkshire and the Humber.

Leeds, in particular, can be seen as a growing economic hub, where between 2013 and 2018 the number of jobs has increased by 10%.

EMSI industry reports attribute strong city growth in the following sectors, looking at industry jobs change between 2015 and 2018:

  • Information & communications sectors, +19%
  • Transportation & storage industries, +14%
  • Construction activities, +14%

East Midlandslargest decrease in jobs year-on-year. -2.2%
With a decrease in filled jobs of 53,000 in 2018 for the East Midlands, the region saw the biggest drop in workforce in the UK by a significant margin; over double the next net decrease in workers, Scotland.

Ernst and Young point to the East Midlands losing out to regions that have secured devolved powers from central government, also lacking a rising economic hub in comparison to their neighbouring regions.

South Eastgood year-on-year job growth. +1.8%

Another year of positive job growth for the South East, where the ONS suggest that over 80,000 jobs were created in 2018. Outside of London, the South East is by far the largest economic hub with a workforce of nearly 5 million.

Economic success can be tied to great connections to commerce in the capital as well as a large number of aerospace and defence corporations in the territory.

London middling annual job growth. +1.2%

Over 2018, ONS data suggests the capital saw an increase in jobs of nearly 70,000: positive growth but not as high as the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber - in both absolute and relative terms.

Further analysis points towards Brexit as a key factor in mixed job growth, with over 20 top financial services companies moving assets out of London.

About the data sources:

ONS data source – the Office for National Statistics’ Workforce Jobs Survey is an aggregated report made up of:

  • 32,800 business short term employer surveys
  • A public sector employment survey with 1500 contributors
  • The labour force survey of 50,000 households

With a total sample size of over 83,000 inputs the Workforce Jobs Survey is the largest of its kind: intended to be representative of the entire population of the UK.

EMSI data source – EMSI use a collection of nine Government sources, aggregated and combined to provide a multi-layered cross check, updated year by year to give over 20 million data points on labour market conditions in the British economy.

What counts as a ‘job’ in ONS data?

The total number of jobs worked in an area; filled positions worked by ages 16 and over, working more than one hour per week.

Significantly, the report reviews where a job is worked, rather than the host, home, location of the worker.