A tailored response is required to tackle cities’ unemployment challenges

Today, Centre for Cities launches Cities Outlook 2012, our fifth annual ‘health check’ on UK cities, and this year we have focused on unemployment in cities.

The report, sponsored by IBM and the LGA, shows that there is a strong geographical nature to unemployment across UK cities. But unemployment is not evenly spread across the UK. While cities such as York and Cambridge have relatively low levels of unemployment, cities such as Grimsby and Hull have a much larger problem.

The variation in unemployment across cities is stark. While the number of people in Cambridge claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is just 1.8 percent of the total working age population, 8.0 percent of residents in Hull are on JSA. And the gap between the two cities has more than doubled since the onset of the recession; it has widened from 3.1 percentage points in February 2008 to 6.2 percentage points in November 2011.

Similar patterns are seen for youth and long term unemployment. There are around one in ten young job seekers in Grimsby compared to less than one in 30 in York. And one in four job seekers in Hull has been unemployed for over one year in contrast to one in ten in Swansea. These trends could have worrying consequences – previous research has shown the long term ‘scarring’ effects that youth and long term unemployment can have on future employment prospects.

The concentration of unemployment in some cities requires a varied geographic approach to tackle the different unemployment challenges that cities face. But to date, the Government’s approach has been spatially blind; while the Youth Contract that was announced by Nick Clegg in November is welcomed, it has ignored geography as a key dimension of the unemployment problem.

The Government has signalled its strong intention over the last year to devolve power away from Whitehall to cities, and its announcement of ‘city deals’ is a key part of this. Policies to tackle unemployment must be a core part of these deals. The nature of helping someone find employment in Hull is likely to be very different to what it is in Portsmouth. As such, a more tailored response is required to each city’s unemployment problem ranging from short term solutions, such as work experience, to longer term programmes to improve residents’ skills, if policies designed to reduce unemployment are to be effective.

* Paul Swinney is Economist at the Centre for Cities

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/26742 for Twitter and emails.


  • This is an excellent report, but Nick Clegg is right to set up “spatially blind” youth policies. We cannot neglect the young unemployed in York just because there are fewer of them. Policy must concentrate on people, not place.

  • Unemployment in construction is 21.2%, I wish these guys would tell the truth. We all need to education ourself in this tough market only way is a degree or change your career.. search online for High Speed Universities for career advice

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 10th Oct - 3:29pm
    Dear Paul, My point is that, if we start moaning before the campaign has even been launched, what hope have we of sticking together when...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 10th Oct - 3:02pm
    @John Marriott. I think you are missing Carons point, a campaign that leaves out half the population at the start is more likely to lose....
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 10th Oct - 3:01pm
    Greg Clark MP was in Waitrose in Paddock Wood for a constituency surgery. Nobody had bothered to turn up, except for a young couple who...
  • User AvatarRoland 10th Oct - 2:24pm
    Phyllis - re: "The irony of a (seemingly) all-male panel of contributors taking over this thread" For your enjoyment I point you at this article...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 10th Oct - 1:35pm
    How can one not rubbish the 'Remain ' campaign when it is to be led by unelected Tory peer Stuart Rose? The Independent today says...
  • User AvatarGlenn 10th Oct - 1:28pm
    This is not what actually happened. The conservatives got 24 per cent of the potential vote, That's how many people they appeal to. Their vote...