Strong employment growth on the cards for Bristol this year as UK economy recovers from downturn

January 6, 2023

Bristol will have one of the fastest-growing employment rates of any UK city later this year when the country emerges from recession, according to a new report.

Research carried out for law firm Irwin Mitchell shows Bristol’s economy is expected to achieve annual growth of 0.7% by the fourth quarter of this year, with its GVA (gross value added) rising to 16.7bn. 

At the same time, employment levels are also expected to grow by 1.6%, taking the city’s total workforce to 370,700.

Bristol’s forecast employment growth rate puts it in joint sixth place with Edinburgh in the top 10 performing locations in the Irwin Mitchell City Tracker – one place above London (with 1.5%) but behind Liverpool and Exeter (both 1.7%).

The table, pictured below, is headed by Cambridge, where employment growth is forecast to power ahead by 2.5%.

The City Tracker report, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), examined 50 locations across the UK, forecasting future growth in terms of GVA and employment. 

The report estimates that the UK entered recession in the second half of 2022 and expects economic growth to resume in the second half of this year.

Irwin Mitchell partner and head of consumer sector Charlotte Rees-John said: “Last year presented numerous challenges and the downward pressure on spending activity, which continues to be concentrated in the consumer sector, looks set to continue throughout the first half of 2023.

“The consumer sector has, however, been one of the most resilient, agile and innovative sectors in recent times and those businesses that succeed during 2023 will be in a very strong position to take advantage of a more stable economic environment in 2024.”

Longer-term aspirations, such as the transition to carbon net zero, was something all businesses needed to do, irrespective of their sector and the pressures they were facing, she added.

ESG (environment, social and governance) was also fast becoming a priority for the majority of businesses, particularly at a time when there was huge pressure and scrutiny from consumers and investors who were increasingly making their decisions based on ethical as well as financial factors.

Cebr managing economist Josie Dent added: “2023 will be a difficult year for consumers and businesses in the South West, with the cost of living crisis expected to lead to falling economic activity.

“However, Cebr forecasts that economic growth will resume in the second half of 2023, with most cities expected to see an annual expansion in GVA by Q4 2023.”


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