Today, Centre for Cities launched our fifth annual index of UK Cities, Cities Outlook 2012. Our report provides a detailed account of how cities are fairing against the backdrop of a sluggish national economy.
This year, the focus of the research has been on how the deteriorating picture of unemployment is playing out in UK cities. And just like the rises in unemployment seen during the recession, further increases are likely to affect cities across the country very differently. For this reason the approach taken to tackle unemployment needs to be aware of its geographic nature.
Cities Outlook, sponsored by IBM and the LGA shows that there are three key points that policymakers should be aware of when trying to deal with unemployment. Firstly, unemployment is particularly an urban issue. Of the 64 cities that we looked at in the report, two thirds of them had a higher number of job seekers than the national average.
Secondly, there is huge variation in the scale of the unemployment challenge that cities face. Cambridge has the lowest number of job seekers of all cities at 1.8 percent in November 2011. Hull, on the other hand, is at the opposite end of the scale – 8 percent of its working age population claimed Jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) last November. And this static picture only tells part of the story – the gap between the claimant count rates of the two cities has doubled since the onset of the recession, increasing from 3.1 percentage points in February 2008 to 6.2 percentage points in November 2011.