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Greater Cambridge - the leading light for the UK economy

Published 09 July 2024

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Greater Cambridge remains a leading light for the UK’s economy as employment continues to grow despite challenging times, according to new research.

The new data from the Centre for Business Research (CBR) shows sustained job growth driven by knowledge intensive (KI) sectors, with high-tech manufacturing and life sciences the fastest growing sectors within the region.

The research highlights the continued growth of employment in Greater Cambridge - albeit at a slower rate than previous reports. While still far exceeding the performance of the national economy, the data shows no place is impervious to the current challenging economic conditions and emphasises the need for a strong UK industrial strategy under a new Government.

Cllr Elisa Meschini, chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, said:

“The continued growth of jobs in Greater Cambridge’s in the face of economic uncertainty and the lasting impact of Covid and other global events is a clear demonstration of how strong our region is, and just how important our world-leading tech and life science sectors are to our country’s economy.

“However, as the data shows, we cannot be complacent about our continued success. We all benefit from the new jobs and investment in our region. This is why it is vital the government and organisations like the GCP deliver the infrastructure improvements we all need so we can support growth sustainably to make our region a better place to live, work and visit.”

Dan Thorp, chief executive at Cambridge Ahead, said:

“The evidence couldn’t be clearer. The Cambridge economy continues to perform exceptionally well, particularly in important future-facing sectors. A star performer over the last year has been the high-tech manufacturing sector, demonstrating Cambridge’s strength in depth across the innovation economy.

“The national spotlight is rightly on Cambridge because of our economic strength. As well as creating new jobs that bring benefits to local communities, our city region has a leading role to play in the resurgence of the UK economy. To make these local and national contributions though, it is critical we deliver as soon as possible the infrastructure that makes full potential possible, sustainable, and opens up opportunities to more people across our region.”

Employment rates saw 5.2% growth in 2022-23, compared to rates of 7.7% in 2021-22. Despite this slower rate of growth this continues to far exceed the growth rates seen in the national economy. The report links the onset of the recession in the second half of 2023 to the slower rate of growth in Greater Cambridge.

Employment rates grow evenly across the districts – with a 5% increase in both Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, which the report states is ‘remarkable considering the macroeconomic background’.

Knowledge intensive sectors saw employment increase by 6.1% (8.6% in 2021-22) which in turn benefited non-KI employment, which was also up 4.0% (6.5% in 2021-22).

‘Other business services’ (8.9%) was the fastest growing non-KI sector, mainly due to an increase in employment at staffing agencies and cleaning service companies. Transport and travel, construction and utilities, and education sectors all posted robust growth figures.

The research is produced by the Centre for Business Research (CBR) at the University of Cambridge and sponsored by a collaboration between the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cambridge Ahead.

The current dataset, showing all Cambridge-based companies, can be viewed via the Cambridge Cluster Insights tab at www.cambridgeahead.co.uk.

The data is also available via www.greatercambridge.org.uk/future-investment/research-evidence.